CBID Case Study:

Mental health support in Peru

8-year-old Maria in Peru receives support to manage her mental health at school. She is also affected by epilepsy.
© Johanna Drach

The following case study is an extract from our ‘Locked Down but not Locked Out’ study – a reflection of CBM’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to provide support to out community-based partners based around the world.

When the Covid-19 pandemic started in Peru, a national state of emergency and extended quarantine situation was rapidly introduced in the country. Over the subsequent weeks in March and April, these measures resulted in a widespread loss of employment and means for purchasing basic commodities, such as food. Government restrictions and further surges of new cases led to uncertainty with severe negative affects on the mental health status of vulnerable people. An increase of cases of domestic violence was also seen.

As early as April, CBM’s partner Paz y Esperanza set up an emergency response in the poorest and most deprived settlements of urban Lima in response to the negative impact of Covid-19 on the lives of people with disabilities. To mitigate the economic shock for persons with disabilities, the elderly and poor families, Paz y Esperanza supplied cash vouchers to purchase food and other means such as for basic health care. Parallel to distribution of cash vouchers, the organisation offered psychological support in form of ‘active listening’. A psychologist supported by a team of more than 10 volunteers, conducted emotional support calls to vulnerable people from these settlements.

Simultaneously, a series of virtual trainings was organised for leaders of organisations of people with disabilities. This effort sought to strengthen the leaders’ capacities to assist in the psychological support efforts for their peers and locally associated persons with disabilities. Due to travel restrictions, there was no possibility for outside specialised professionals to provide psychosocial care. Enabling these leaders was crucial in extending first psychological help, emotional support and self-care to the community.

To date, Paz y Esperanza continues the initiative for psychological support with a dedicated active listening line, where psychological and emotional support is provided to those in need.

Key Learnings

  • Aside from inducing economic difficulties, the pandemic exposed mental health care as a critical predicament for persons with disabilities. It uncovered multiple problems such as increased emotional instability caused by the fear of contagion and fear of death.
  • Within the project, it was found that it is necessary to have a larger number of people prepared to assist others with psychological first aid because there are not enough people trained in mental health. It is not required to have specialised personnel, but it is necessary to guarantee volunteers’ training to cover a greater radius of action with the population that needs support.
  • The practice of active listening has been vital because many people just needed to be listened to in order to gain confidence and feel valued.

Publications on our COVID-19 Response

This photo shows a man sitting in a wheelchair, washing his hands at a wash basin with liquid soap.

We have produced two publications thanks to input from people with disabilities and community workers, and from a reflection on our own response in support of our community-based partners. 

Access both studies here.

Disability Inclusive Community Action –COVID-19 Matrix

This example corresponds to the ‘Compassion’ action point on the Disability Inclusive Community Action –COVID-19 Matrix’ developed by CBM.

The “Disability Inclusive Community Action – COVID-19 Matrix” was developed last year at the onset of the global pandemic. The aim is to provide community programmes guidance on possible action points in community development and mobilization in relation to COVID-19 preparedness and response. Read this article for more information.

The 'Disability Inclusive Community Action –COVID-19 Matrix’ developed by CBM (Photo © CBM)