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Julian Eaton talks about Mental Health

Dima from Gaza is currently undergoing psychosocial support and physiotherapy at our partner organisation - Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR)

This month’s CBM IAA Newsletter focuses on mental health. Dr. Julian Eaton, Psychiatrist and CBM Mental Health Advisor in Togo shares his views with us.

More attention paid to mental health

Dr. Julian Eaton
This month’s CBM IAA Newsletter focuses on mental health. We are privileged to work with a wide variety of partners around the world in this dynamic and growing area. The articles here are about that work, which in some cases is directly supported by CBM, and in others is the product of fruitful collaborations.

When CBM formally started work in mental health and psychosocial disabilities, the area had received almost no recognition in either the field of global health or disability inclusive development.  While being widely acknowledged that there was great need that was neglected, there was a sense that this was how it would always be. We are still in a situation where the great majority of people with psychosocial disabilities in low income settings (9 out of 10) do not have a choice of effective services that address their mental health care needs, and very few countries where we work have an organised voice of persons with psychosocial disabilities. Despite this, there has been a revolution in that time in the attention paid to mental health as a global development issue, and a significant strengthening in evidence around what works in this area. 

Various themes covered in our Newsletter

In this edition of the newsletter, we have asked alliance partners to describe examples of the work that they are doing in challenging neglect and abuse, and promoting rights in a range of contexts.  Changing attitudes that have resulted in abuse of people with psychosocial disabilities being seen as normal and acceptable is paramount, see for example in Shantha Rau Barriga’s description of the reality of abuse and chaining in Ghana, uncovered in a Human Rights Watch report. In Sierra Leone, huge progress has been made by a coalition of stakeholders taking a lead in improving access to services, and Carmen Valle describes how they have managed to ensure that mental health is on the agenda during the current Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. This example reinforces the fact that the most powerful means of challenging exclusion is through the voice of those affected themselves, and Jagannath Lamichhane of the Movement for Global Mental Health describes in his article how the Movement is starting to do this at a global level, even if bringing to the fore the voice of the most marginalised of communities can be a challenge.

Human rights is at the heart of all the work we do, whether it is directly challenging the often brutal abuse that people experience, or providing people with a choice of quality comprehensive medical and psychosocial social care where they have never had access to it before. Aleisha Carrol of CBM Australia has worked with partners in the service user community to analyse some of the key factors that have been shown to be effective in promoting change, part of CBM’s effort to promote evidence-based and effective interventions for a more inclusive society. In line with this, WHO and CBM have worked together to develop easily accessible resources for advocacy at country level, and tools for systematically evaluating and reforming services in line with human rights standards. The MiNDbank and QualityRights Toolkits are unpacked for us by Nathalie Drew of WHO.

Learning to work effectively

As we approach the 2015 milestone, the next journey for mental health and development will be learning to work effectively as an integral part of wider health, inclusion, environment and human rights initiatives. The mental health and psychosocial disability community has mobilised behind some common messages as part of the campaign to ensure mental health is mainstreamed into the post-2015 development agenda. CBM supports FundaMentalSDG and has contributed to a number of joint position papers on mental health and development [1] . Scaling up access to services, and meaningful protection of human rights are the main priorities. Research has seen the initial increase of resources in the area, but we are confident that a significant increase in funds for programmes will follow. We need to take effective work to scale, and in this Newsletter we have some clear directions that we can follow.

[1] A Position Statement on mental health in the post-2015 development agenda. Eaton J, Kakuma R, Wright A, Minas H. Int Journal of Mental Health Systems 2014; 8:27
The post-2015 sustainable development goals: an opportunity to promote health equity. Oye Gureje, Graham Thornicroft & the FundaMentalSDG Steering Group. In press. Lancet 2014
Declaration on mental health in Africa: moving to implementation. Daar A, Jacobs M, Wall S, Groenewald J, Eaton J, Patel V, dos Santos P, Kagee A, Gevers A, Sunkel C, Andrews G, Daniels I, Ndetei D. Global Health Action 2014, 7: 24589

Know more

Dr Julian Eaton

CBM co-worker - Psychiatrist and CBM Mental Health Advisor


A call to action to the development community

Aleisha Carroll, CBM Australia discusses why it is important to include people with psychosocial disability in development.


WHO MiNDbank and QualityRights

Natalie Drew from the WHO outlines the progress made a year after MiNDbank was launched and explains the WHO QualityRights Project.


Creating a global movement for mental health

Jagannath Lamichhane discusses the progress made in building a global movement for mental health.


Transforming Sierra Leone’s Mental Health services

Dr Carmen Valle discusses the progress made in Sierra Leone for people with psychosocial disabilities and the current threat of Ebola .


A Different Type of Camp Experience

Shantha Rau Barriga is Disability Rights Director at Human Rights Watch. In 2011 and 2012, Shantha visited prayer camps in Africa.



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