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Advancing the rights of people with mental health conditions

Health
Kenya Togo

Handicap International and the French Development Agency (AFD) is holding a two-day workshop on mental health for funding bodies, mental health professionals and service users at AFD’s head office in Paris from 11th to 12th October. Some 50 people are expected to attend. Aude Bausson, coordinator of HI's mental health programme in West Africa, explains what the workshop hopes to achieve. 

 Pearls workshop, occupational therapy session at the Mental Health Centre in Lomé, Togo.

Pearls workshop, occupational therapy session at the Mental Health Centre in Lomé, Togo. | © Régis Binard / Handicap International

"This workshop has three aims," says Aude Bausson. "First, to alert governments, funding bodies and mental health professionals to assaults on the dignity of people with mental health conditions or psychosocial disabilities. People with mental health problems are heavily stigmatised in many countries. An estimated 18,000 people with mental health problems around the world are chained up. In extreme cases, the authorities and even families see this as the only way to control a sick individual."

"Second, the workshop will provide an opportunity to discuss best practices. Professionals and users of mental health programmes from Kenya, Togo and other countries, have been invited to the workshop and will provide testimony on this issue. In several countries, HI also helps these service users set up organisations to more effectively advance their rights."

"Third, we want to ensure funding bodies are aware of this issue and to encourage them to put a greater emphasis on the mental health component in funding for development policies."

"Mental health conditions are far from trivial. Around 450 million people worldwide suffer from problems related to their mental health, resulting from conflict, displacement, confinement in rundown institutions, chronic illnesses, and many other factors."

"Mental health care budgets are slim, particularly in low-income countries where needs are greatest. Little action is taken to help people with mental health problems because the authorities do not consider them a priority, due to poor knowledge of the subject and a lack of qualified professionals."

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