Hello world, we truly are pleased for the opportunity to launch such a noble campaign during the Mental Health Awareness Month.
Until I moved to Belgium in 2013, I was also one of such people stuck in this invisible web of ‘shame to talk about it’. I was a caregiver and I was so confused about what was going on with my brother. Here is a blog posts I wrote about my frustration about the situation back then. It sure was an open cry for help: Someone tell me what is wrong with my brother. Shortly after that, yes I got to know that he’d been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I knew he was epileptic because I was there when his seizures started and got to learn of the diagnosis shortly thereafter. Yet, this was barely 2 months before he passed away after 18 years of turmoil with the epilepsy and the mental disorders. He had taken just too much medication to end what I titled in a memoir, a Simpleton.
Is the discomfort with the word mental?
Talking about his epilepsy disorder seemed to attract more ‘sympathy’. It is not an outright mental illness right? And yet, the long and even short term effects of this neurological condition can definitely lead to serious mental disorders. Frankly pondering, which serious physical illness is there that doesn’t have a relationship with some mental health challenges? One leads to other in several cases. It’s a matter of the way you look at the glass right?
The WHO calls it the Pandemic of the Century
In 2010, WHO published a report on Mental Health and development: targeting people with mental health conditions as a vulnerable group. The overview of the report states as follows:
It’s is a call to action to all development stakeholders – governments, civil society, multilateral agencies, bilateral agencies, global partnerships, private foundations, academic and research institutions – to focus their attention on mental health.
The report presents compelling evidence that persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities are a vulnerable group but continue to be marginalized in terms of development aid and government attention. It makes the case for reaching out to this group through the design and implementation of appropriate policies and programmes and through the inclusion of mental health interventions into broader poverty reduction and development strategies. The report also describes a number of key interventions which can provide a starting point for these efforts. By investing in persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities, development outcomes can be improved.
How do the development stakeholders above focus their attention on a largely stigmatized group? Who propagates the stigma? Do we put all the blame on the providers of services only? Do we mental health consumers dare2talk about is ‘worrying us’ before it gets to a more complicated stage? Remember the info graphic below?
Dear gentle readers and followers, the Gbm Foundation for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing which was created in memory of my brother, is determined to help raise awareness on the need for change in ‘societal norms’ as far as mental health is concerned. Join me in launching this Campaign here, and one day, we would take it to every street corner of Cameroon. Thank you!