The Movement for Global Mental Health was founded in 2008 with the aim of mobilising interested actors in a call for human rights for people with psychosocial disabilities, and access to good quality and affordable treatment, especially in the poorer parts of the world. Since then, the Movement has held a summit every 2 years (previously in Athens, Cape Town and Bangkok) where members have come together to share, celebrate, and plan.
The membership of the Movement is diverse, taking in service users, care providers of all sorts, academics, and others. The main method of communicating and networking is through a website; www.globalmentalhealth.org; a good route to join the Movement!
The exciting decision was taken for this year’s summit in India was to focus on service users as a unique and powerful group within the Movement’s membership. The theme was ‘Nothing about us without us’, and the event was organised by users and their organisations (in India), and had a programme largely devoted to contributions by people with psychosocial disabilities.
One of the refreshing differences from a typical conference was that there was a larger emphasis on creativity and expression than on academic or scientific activities (though there was scientific content as well). For two days, we were privileged to hear powerful and inspiring stories from the lives of people with psychosocial disabilities, and those who live and work with them. We watched, and often joined in with, dance, art, drama and provocative discussions.
The conference organisers The Banyan and Public Health Foundation of India did a wonderful job of welcoming us, with the student volunteers at the venue (the Tata Institute of Social Sciences) even giving up their own rooms for delegates. There was a positive atmosphere, and a strong sense of purpose, which was translated into the decision taken at the end of the summit to form a local group affiliated to the Global Movement for activities in South Asia.
CBM is proud to have been associated with the Movement since its inception, and will continue to share its aim of providing a strong voice for people with psychosocial disabilities and others committed to realisation of human rights for all.