Plight of mental health rehabilitation — Zambia

From Zambia: 


It is said that “Mental Health is Real Health” and one would never appreciate this fact until they know what really mental health is all about. Mental Health can basically be understood as the psychological state of well-being, characterized by continuing personal growth, a sense of purpose in life, self-acceptance, and positive relations with others. A number of different aspects of life do influence the mental state of a human being and these aspects include working life, family life, and the social role that one occupies in the community. Negative experiences in these areas reduce one’s overall sense of well-being thereby leading to mental illness.

Another influence on mental health is stress. Generally, we experience stress every day in a lot of areas like major life events, such as divorce, death of a spouse, loss of a job, and illness in the family. Besides that, economic hardship, unemployment, and poverty also produce chronic stress. These events deeply affect one’s ability to cope and function effectively thus disrupting one’s mental state. Mental Health is a goal we must aspire to achieve.

For a very long time, mental illnesses have been regarded as problems of the very poorest in society and have received high level of negligence towards the promotion of mental health. We need to take things easy in life and make sure that our ability to modify our lives to more adaptive ways is key. There is a fine line in mental health, this is the reason why others in some cases fail and end up being admitted in mental institutions.

In Zambia we are privileged to have a mental health rehabilitation centre where patients go for rehabilitation. However, the state in which the centre operates in leaves much to be desired.

A visit to Nsadzu Rehabilitation Centre in Chadiza Eastern Province of Zambia would make you have a change of heart. Concerns have been voiced that raise issues of human rights crisis and an urgent need for change, with little response. While Nsadzu is named as a rehabilitation facility, no residents seem to have ever moved from this place back to their families or to new environments.

The general feel of the place, though set in a lovely natural environment, is one of abandonment. The inadequate physical structures for living, cooking and in existent laundry facilities with doors to rooms suffering from termite damage; buildings looking structurally unsound with sections of the wall missing from the floor to the roof level; the skinny and dirty old men and women; are the sights that greet you as you arrive.

The centre used to house about 30 residents but now currently 14, without any transfers out. The age range is from young adult to elderly with some of the residents having been at the centre since the 1980s.

Residents develop swollen limbs, rash and then slowly die due to poor nutrition and care. After death, the residents’ burial-site is just in the nearby bush, then day-to-day activities resumes immediately which is a normal routine in this community. Concerning visitations, no one remembers ever being visited by any relative. Unfortunately, it is being forgotten that it is just a rehabilitation process for a time period where the need for repatriation back to their families or society is inevitably essential.

As it should concern any person with a sound mind, such a situation that our relatives live in, is a humanitarian crisis. It falls short by a very long way in providing a healthy, safe and meaningful environment or definition of rehabilitation. Residents’ vulnerability as amplified by the lack of alternative options for care and complete reliance on the rehabilitation centre to meet their needs; the psychological and torturous impacts on the surviving residents after the death of their newly-found families, while knowing that they would never leave; is a humanitarian emergency.

Such is a typical picture of how mental health issues are being handled in most African countries, sometimes even worse. This is the time we must put aside stigma associated with mental illness and embrace one another as one family. Africa has a rich culture of caring for fellow neighbours. Neglect of relatives sent to various forms of rehabilitation centres must be abhorred. Family and social support whenever crises occurs is vital.

Mental illness is real and anyone can be affected at anytime. We need to have a change of mentality, an open mind to freely talk about mental health issues just like any other illness. Social support from friends and family members is fundamentally important to recovery. These can take several forms such as a simple step of responding with concern and care, empathy, and advice. Social support is our pride as Africans, let us embrace it and lead by example.

Written By;

Dalitso Maseko,




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Gregoire Ahongbonon: Freeing people chained for being ill W. Africa

Excellent article by BBC. Gregoire Ahongbonon: Freeing people chained for being ill. In West Africa. Saint Camille Association.


We couldn’t agree with Gregoire Ahongbonon more:

“In the third millennium the fact that we can find people in chains, and shackled to trees, I can’t accept it, it has to stop. And I will say it again and again – as long as there is just one human being in chains then the whole of humanity is in chains.”

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Post-Doc Research Assistant in Global Mental Health —- U of Sheffield

From our friend and colleague Dr. China Mills at U of Sheffield. Looking for post-doc research assistant in global mental health. See link below for more information.

Papers and presentations:  
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8th International Summer School Disability Law & Policy — Ireland

8th International Summer School on Disability Law & Policy 

20-24 June (inclusive) Centre for Disability Law & Policy

National University of Ireland (Galway)

THEME: ‘Civil Society as Agents of Change’


 We are delighted to make this pre-announcement of the next International Summer School to be held in the week of 20-24 June (2016) at the National University of Ireland (Galway) on the beautiful West Coast of Ireland. For information on Galway please see and for further information on the summer school see

 It will be held in the new standard-setting and accessible Institute for Lifecourse & Society Building on campus

We are proud to say that the opening Keynote address will be given by Mr John Wodatch who has spent a large amount of his career directing the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on disability rights.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the most admired pieces of disability legislation in the world and John has overseen many innovations and will reflect on his career and lessons for upcoming advocates.  The overall theme for this year’s Summer School will be ‘Civil Society as Agents of Change.’  In addition to coving the basics with respect to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the nature of State obligations, methods of treaty interpretation, etc.) we will take a particular look at how civil society around the world can – and is – taking advantage of the new politics of disability opened up by the UN convention, how they can successfully interact with other agents of change like national human rights institutions and how the increasingly authoritarian practice of closing down civic space for NGOs around the world impacts on the disability advocacy sector.

In the past the Summer School placed a recurring emphasis on ‘Voice & Choice’ (legal capacity and the right to live independently).   We will spend some time looking at practical examples of models of law reform from around the world that are now beginning to emerge on these topics.  A full day will also be set aside to examine a contemporary topic of interest around the globe.  This year we will focus on the ‘Right to Liberty’ issue and the kinds of transformative changes that the UN Convention requires in fields such as the criminal justice system and the traditional civil commitment system.

As usual, we will mount our highly successful (as well as highly enjoyable) Moot Court Competition at the end of the week.  For a taster see:

The Summer School usually has a diverse audience of over 100 persons with disabilities, advocates, DPOs, policy-makers, legislators, judiciary and of course students from every corner of the world.  All are welcome. The Faculty will be drawn from highly impactful advocates and leaders in the movement from round the world.

A more detailed programme will be circulated shorty.

For the moment we would be delighted if you would share this pre-announcement with your colleagues and friends.

To see presentations at the 7th Summer School visit:

Centre for Disability Law and Policy
ILAS Building
National University of Ireland Galway
Tel: +353 91 495888
SMS/Text: +353 86 008 1153
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Bell’s Let’s Talk Mental Health Campaign — Canada

Bell’s Let’s Talk Mental Health annual campaign on January 27  — raises over $6 Million this year for mental health initiatives in Canada!! Every country needs a campaign like this!!
The final results are in! Thanks to your support, we saw a record 125,915,295 calls, texts, tweets and shares on Bell Let’s Talk Day. That means an additional $6,295,764.75 will be donated to mental health initiatives across Canada.
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First Cameroonian Days of Mental Health!!! — Cameroon

We are very excited to announce that the First Cameroonian Days of Mental Health took place from the 15th to the 17th of December 2015 in Yaounde. From our member in Cameroon:

The theme of the First Cameroonian Days of Mental Health was Issues of mental health : States and Perspectives and marks a more concrete development for the mental health system in Cameroon. Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with the Foundation Nant from Switzerland and Mental health professionals. 

The First Cameroonian Mental Health Days was an opportunity for Cameroonian health professionals and mental health trainers to say they exist. Human resources in mental health are insufficient compared to the need but the First Cameroonian Days gave opportunity for advocacy and was a scientific event. Several mental health professionals from all over Cameroon and abroad (Switzerland,Canada) attended the events. Mental health needs to be an essential priority in the elements for the Development of Cameroon and Cameroonians at Horizon 2035.

Following WHO’s 2013-2020 agenda with the inception of this new movement by mental health professionals, psychological associations and the present support of the Ministry of Public Health, mental health in Cameroon is surely going to be an essential element of public health in the years to come. This is an opportunity for all individuals , NGO’s working or interested in mental health in and abroad to bring their contribution to this very important sector of public health in Cameroon. The mental health needs of Cameroonians are very largely unmet.

I strongly believe too that , mental health information and mental health literacy are top educational priorities that should be envisaged in all areas and sectors of activities in Cameroon. Ignorance, that is lack of information and knowledge by health professionals , the general public and mental health professionals is a serious threat to the development of a robust mental health system. Especially that mental health issues are still considered something  strongly linked to witch craft thus a great quantity of patients first go to the traditional doctor , then religious leaders before landing lately and unfortunately at the hospital. There is still a lot of stigmatization and discrimination surrounding persons living with a mental disorder this by family, at work, and in school. Psychotropics are extremely expensive and mental healthcare facilities extremely rare and when they exist unable to met adequately with the different needs of the patients and their families as well as the community. Mental healthcare and mental health information can save lives!

Didier Demassosso
School Counsellor
Mental Health Worker
HIFA Country Representative For Cameroon

Opening ceremony of the First Cameroonian days of Mental health Premieres Journees Camerounaises de La Sante Mentale First Cameroonian days of mental Health  15th -17th 2015 (FCDMH)




Premieres Journees Camerounaises de La Sante Mentale

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WHO interview with S. African member and advocate — Geneva

Excellent interviews with our S. African member Charlene Sunkel and a mental health advocate from Ireland Gary Seery. Charlene has been a tireless advocate for mental health, especially individuals living with schizophrenia, for a very long time. Thank you SO much Charlene for your incredible work and thank you to all mental health advocates around the world!!

Interviews are from WHO – Mental Health Day – “Dignity: essential for recovery from mental health”


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New member from Cameroon!! — Cameroon

We are very excited to add a new member from Cameroon to our group here at Mental Health Worldwide!!

Our new member currently works as a school counsellor in a rural school and is a Master’s student in Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology. Our new member wants to contribute in raising awareness on mental health issues in Cameroon. He is very interested in mental health promotion, mental health literacy and school mental health  in Cameroon. He wants mental health development to boom in Cameroon and as such his advocacy work  will be very important!


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mhGAP Training videos in YouTube format — Kashmir

Previously posted mhGAP training videos have now been converted to YouTube videos so should be much easier to access for most people. Thank you to Dr. Sayed Aqueel Hussain for these training videos.

Go to the link below. Click on the “Resources” tab at the bottom (not top of page), then click on “Multi-Media” tab.


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“Not Without Us” — S. Avery & Mental Health Peer Connection —- West New York

“Not Without Us” — Congratulations for an excellent film by Sam Avery and WNY Mental Health Peer Connection. This film continues to be recognized as it was just shown at a local Justice Film Festival.

“Nothing about us, without us” is a statement that was used during the drafting of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) including psycho-social disabilities. The UN CRPD represents a shift from the medical model to social model where the disability does not lie within the person but the barriers created by the intersection of society and the person. “The social model of disability identifies systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently) recognizing that society is the main contributory factor in disabling people”.

Mental Health Worldwide strongly advocates for the ratification and genuine implementation of the UN CRPD by all countries. Persons with psychosocial disabilities need to be included at all levels of society and directly involved in all policy, law and resources developed with regard to mental health.


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