GLOBAL MENTAL HEALTH NEWS

 

Media coverage is raising awareness of the need for increased attention to mental health challenges world-wide. Click titles to go to full articles.

Medicus Mundi Schweiz Bulletin #142, June 2017

This article orients colleagues across sectors to Global Mental Health (GMH) and its relevance for the collective efforts to promote sustainable development and wellbeing. The authors include examples of GMH resources organized into 10 areas of “GMH Engagement”. Colleagues are encouraged to connect and contribute to GMH as they consider the application of the materials featured in this article for their work.

Illustration courtesy of Medicus Mundi Schweiz Bulletin.

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Supporting Mothers in Western Kenya

Catholic Relief Services, March 16, 2018

​A mothers and babies course originally developed by Ricardo F. Muñoz and colleagues at UCSF is now being offered to mothers in Tanzania and Kenya.  The program them identify and manage stressors, which can be significant for young mothers in this region. They typically marry young and care for their children, husbands and in-laws while struggling under economic hardship.

 

The program teaches a range of fundamentals, from identifying developmental, to nutrition, hygiene, food preparation and positive discipline. According to the article, “This has proven to be completely novel in a culture where people don’t talk much about their emotions.”

Photo by Karen Kasmauski for Catholic Relief Services.

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Al Jazeera, April 3, 2018

One of the biggest casualties of the conflict in Central African Republic is education. CAR's enrollment rate in higher education is less than two percent, dramatically less than the global average of 26 percent. A shortage of teachers, lack of facilities and resources, electricity and water shortages, intermittent fighting, and ongoing crisis since 2013 make pursuit of a college degree "a kind of torture," as one student put it. Still, students remain optimistic.

Photo (detail) by Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera

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Crux, April 14, 2018

PAU impact studies conducted in Central African Republic (CAR) show that trauma healing and peace intervention reduce anxiety, depression and PTSD among participants. But with militias in control of more than 70 percent of the country, violence is getting worse and it is increasingly difficult to deliver humanitarian services.

 

Ongoing conflict has left at least 1.1 million people destitute and homeless, with about 2.5 million people -- more than half of CAR’s four million inhabitants -- now in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations. Access for humanitarian workers is almost completely cut off in certain areas, and it is becoming more dangerous to operate in the country.

Photo by Jerome Delay/AP.

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New York Times, March 23, 2018

In a beautifully illustrated feature article, New York Times op ed writer Nicholas Kristof reports on the ongoing crisis in Central African Republic. Poverty, hunger, infant mortality, disease, and human misery result from 14 years of civil war and ethnic cleansing in a country "where government is mostly just a rumor." Kristoff says, "This country also embodies a larger truth: For thousands of years, humanity’s greatest challenge was poverty and disease, but increasingly it may be conflict."

Photo by Lynsey Addario for the New York Times.

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New York Times, January 17, 2018

Throughout West Africa, people with severe mental disorders are chained at “prayer camps“ where it is believed that prayer and fasting are the best treatment for mental problems. In Ghana, researchers have conducted the first controlled trial of drug treatment to alleviate symptoms. The research was led by scientists from he University of Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry and Yale University. According to a January 2018 New York Times report, “The findings were mixed: Drug treatment, mostly for psychosis, blunted day-to-day symptoms of hallucinations and delusional thinking. But it did not reduce the length of time people were held in chains at the camp.”

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Norwegian-led effort to establish an international standard

Recognizing that challenges to the mobility of professional psychologists between regions and countries is a universal issue, the Norwegian Psychological Association has initiated an effort to develop cross-cultural standards for psychologists. Their International Declaration of Core Competences in Professional Psychology seeks to identify a set of internationally recognized and endorsed competences and develop a global professional identity and an international recognition system for the preparation, accreditation, credentialing, and regulation of professional psychologists around the world. With the support of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) and the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS), they organized a series of international meetings between 2011 and 2015 to develop an “International Declaration on Core Competences in Professional Psychology.” The final draft of this Declaration forwarded to IAAP and IUPsyS with a recommendation to put it on the agenda for discussion at the International Congress of Psychology (ICP) held in July 2016 in Yokohama.

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by Zack Baddorf | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Thomson Reuters correspondent in Central African Republic reports on Christians and Muslims pairing up for an experiment in building trust between communities torn apart by conflict. the article includes Baddorf's wonderful photos of the workshop and trust exercises.

Skoll Foundation on Basic Needs, October 10, 2016

Mental health is allocated less than two percent of health spending in most low- and middle-income countries.  Without action now, the social and economic impact of mental illness in the coming years will be huge.  There is hope. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in September 2015 finally include mental health as a target. This marks a significant turning point, placing mental health on the global agenda and ensuring commitment from governments. 

(Photo credit/copyright:  Basic Needs Ghana / BasicNeeds.org)

The New York Times, October 1, 2016

The state-run El Pampero Hospital in Venezuela has almost no drugs left for its tormented patients, let alone food and clothing, amid the nation’s economic crisis. ... The Venezuelan government denies that its public hospitals are suffering from shortages, and has refused multiple offers of international medical aid.

(Photo credit/copyright: Meredith Kohout / New York Times)

The Guardian, April 26, 2016

A first-hand account of the author's impressions of mental health treatment and policy, and the historic lack thereof. The author gives cause to hope that mental health is being positioned as essential to overall health, and calls for "a mental health law which enshrines the rights of those with a mental illness and gives them the right to treatment could help diminish stigma by educating people about human dignity and rights, in addition to protecting and empowering patients."

(Photo credit/copyright: Jefta Images / Barcroft Media)

New York Magazine, April 13, 2016

Coverage of the World Health Organization's call for in creased focus on illnesses that attack the mind.

(Photo copyright: New York Magazine)

The Lancet Psychiatry, April 12, 2016

Depression and anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and disabling disorders. They result in human misery and lost health and also lost economic output. The authors propose a global investment case for a scaled-up response to the public health and economic burden of depression and anxiety disorders.

Nature, April 6, 2016

Researchers in low- and middle-income countries are tackling the lack of mental-health professionals by testing the delivery of care by non-specialists, including peers, community health workers or primary-care providers. Others are developing and testing applications on smartphones and tablets to extend access to screening and treatment.

(Photo credit/copyright: Sven Torfinn/Panos)

Demilked.com March 2016

American photographer Andrea Star Reese travels to Indonesia to document the condition of the country’s mentally ill. Indonesia’s mental health treatment facilities have been in an appalling state for decades. It has become a common practice to keep patients chained in cages, on a very low nutrition diet and separated from others. The photographer captures the conditions that patients must endure. According to the photographer, Indonesia has around 19 million people with psychosocial disabilities and one diagnosis: "insane.” These are not easy photos to see, but it is a story that needs to be told.

(Photo credit/copyright Andrea Starr Reese)

New York Times, October 13, 2015

This article is a companion article to the New York Times coverage of October 11, 2015. It show what can be accomplished with relatively few resources. The core issue is not whether the treatment described is optimal, but whether it is an improvement over the treatment outlined in the October 1 article.

(Photo credit/copyright: Jane Hahn for The New York Times)

New York Times, October 11, 2015

This article highlights the great need around the world for competent mental health professionals.

(Photo credit/copyright: Joao Silva/The New York Times)

BBC Magazine, October 17, 2013

Somalia has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the world and with a healthcare system devastated by years of war, most sufferers receive no medical help.  Many are chained up -- to trees or at home.  Some are even locked in cages with hyenas. But one man is trying to change all that. 

(Photo credit/copyright:Getty Images)

New York Times, November 10, 2010

"It has been nearly 35 years since the end of the Cultural Revolution, when mental illness was declared a bourgeois self-delusion and the sick were treated with readings from Chairman Mao. Psychiatric treatment has returned. But mental health remains a medical backwater, desperately short of financing, practitioners and esteem."

(Photo credit/copyright: Du Bin for The New York Times )

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