Mary Ayim

Family-Systems and ‘Support’ For Recovery: Experiences of Mental Health Service Users and their Family Caregivers in Kumasi-Ghana

Supervisors: Professor Jerry Tew and Professor Harry Ferguson

Mary AyimPromoting family support and caregiving in mental illness and recovery is a vital multiagency initiative across all countries. In many cases, family caregivers play a critical role in the recovery and quality of life of family members with mental health problems. They provide material (economic: financial, housing, clothing, food) and non-material support (emotional/relational: a sense of belongingness, love, empathy and instrumental: a source of knowledge about the individual to mental health professionals, assistance with medication compliance) to enhance recovery from diseases to ensure wellbeing. This makes family caregivers the pivotal support system of care at home for people with mental health problems.

However, in Ghana, mental illness is a neglected area in health care, with few professional clinicians, social care workers and academicians in this field. Public education, community sensitisation and research in this field have also been limited both in quantity and quality. The desire to choose this path stems from personal interest and passion for improving mental health education, multiagency services and aiding mental health policy reforms in Ghana.

This study aims to understand reciprocal family interactions, roles, interpersonal relationships, care, and ‘support’ in mental illness recovery by exploring the experiences of both family caregivers and relatives diagnosed with mental illness. It will adopt the pragmatist philosophical framework and case study research strategy, a sequential exploratory mixed-methods research approach, eco mapping strategies, and ecosystems theoretical perspectives to explore family caregivers’ and relatives’ (mental health service users) perspectives and experiences their mental health illness recovery journey. The resulting data will be analysed using the latest versions of SPSS and NVIVO data management software. It is hoped that some practical conclusions can be drawn about how family caregivers can best involve in the care and support of relatives diagnosed with mental illness during this transition into independent living. This goes a long way in Ghana. 


  • BA Social Work, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
  • MA Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice), University of Birmingham


Mary Ayim is a PhD student at the Department of Social Work and Social Care, University of Birmingham (UoB), UK. She has social work practice and research experience in social work, social care, family wellbeing and mental health, professional practices and education, community and social development. Prior to joining UoB for her Master’s degree, she worked as a teaching and research assistant with the Department of Sociology and Social Work, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana, after obtaining First Class Honours in Social Work from the same University.

Research interests

  • Social care and mental health
  • Social work professional practices and education
  • Child protection and family wellbeing
  • Community and social development

Teaching responsibilities

Previous teaching experience

September 2018 – July 2019: Teaching Assistant (Department of Sociology and Social Work- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana)


  • Planning tutorials and responsible for organising student handouts
  • Marking and setting up tutorial assignments of students
  • Invigilating semester examinations
  • Marking and recording of student test scores
  • Thesis supervision and  mentoring of students
  • Organising social work agency familiarisation activities for social work students

Professional memberships

  • Ghana Association of Social Workers (GASSOW) 2017-Date
  • British Association of Social Workers (BAS), 2021-Date
  • Social Workers Union, UK, 2021-Date
  • Forum for African Women Educationalist (FAWE), Ghana Chapter, 2018-Date
  • Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows Alumni, Ghana (COSFAG), 2020-Date
  • Ghana Association of Social Workers, UK, March 2022-Date


Abdullah, A., Ayim, M. and Bentum, H., Emery, C.R. (2021) ‘Parental poverty, physical neglect and child welfare intervention : Dilemma and constraints of child welfare workers in Ghana’, Children and Youth Services Review, 126, pp. 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2021.106036.

Ayim, M., Abdullah, A., Bentum, H., Amponsah, E. B., and Cudjoe, E. (2021) ‘Contributing to indigenous social work practice in Africa: A look at the cultural conceptualisations of social problems in  Ghana’, Journal of Social Work Practice, 0 (0) pp.1-17. doi/10.1177/14733250211055487.

Abdullah, A., Ayim. M., Bentum, H., Foster, A., Pinto, G., and Teinni, Janet (2021) ‘Where Do We Go After Surviving the Virus? Cross-Country Documentary Analysis of the Social Consequences Faced by COVID-19 Survivors’, International Quarterly of Community Health Education. 0(0), pp. 1-10.

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