CBM and Community Mental Health

People discussing their futures after the Asian Tsunami, Sri Lanka, December 2004
© CBM / Lohnes
People discussing their futures after the Asian Tsunami, Sri Lanka, December 2004

People with psychosocial disabilities may be ‘invisible’, have limited access to services and may be excluded from full participation in community life. This is particularly true in developing countries, and children especially need protection. CBM and partners take a community-based approach in tackling these issues.

Mental Health is a Development Issue

Good mental health is essential for the well-being and functioning of individuals, families, communities and societies. There is increasing evidence to show that apart from the personal impact of social exclusion that psychosocial disability can result in, there is an enormous loss to communities and the economy if people with psychosocial disabilities cannot participate in society and the economy. A 2016 World Bank report calculated that over 1 trillion dollars is lost to the global economy due to mental illness every year, a figure that will rise to 6 trillion dollars by 2030 if urgent action is not taken to address growing needs.

Psychosocial disabilities are a leading cause of disability worldwide, accounting for around 1/3 of all disability globally (measured using Years Lives with Disability) according to the WHO. Mental conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and other psychotic illness, epilepsy, dementia, alcohol and substance misuse often cause very distressing symptoms, but are not given the priority they deserve in health services. Suicide is estimated to lead to over a million deaths annually around the world.

The last 10 years has seen a significant growth in interest in mental health as a development issue.  This is evident in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030, which includes many important references to mental health and wellbeing (that were absent from the MDGs).

CBM and Community Mental Health

Many of the poorest countries in the world, where CBM focuses her work, spend less than 1% of their health budget on mental health. The populations in many of these countries are exposed to poverty and unemployment, migration, and poor health and education systems. All these increase vulnerability to mental illness. CBM also works in emergency contexts, and the impact on mental health can affect communities long after the emergency is over.

A strong evidence base for effective, culturally appropriate, community-based interventions has grown, including the WHO’s mhGAP programme, and the QualityRights Toolkit, which helps local actors to advocate and act to bring mental health services more in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). CBM has also worked closely with WHO and others in development of these resources, and has many partners using them.

This previously invisible group is now starting to be better organised so that they can speak with their own voice. There is a long way to go, but there are now many positive signs that more people with psychosocial disabilities will be able to receive the support that they want to assist them on their path to recovery and full participation in communities.

Read more

Community Mental Health - terminology

The language used when referring to mental health problems and to people who experience them

25-05-2015


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