Global South: Mental Ill-Health Most Neglected Problem
Mental ill-health is the most neglected problem in the global south. A cocktail of issues including stigma, lack of investments in prevention and treatment and negative perceptions have lead to this neglect.
Mental health is a taboo subject in many countries. This is specifically true of the global south. While in physical ill-health, the disease is separated from the person, in mental ill-health issues, the conditions are identified with the person. People also have the idea that one can suffer mental health problems only if all other needs are satisfied. It’s considered a luxury and given less importance. Due to these reasons, a comprehensive response is lacking for mental health in the global south. To compound the complex obstacles further, mental health problems are difficult to visualize while it’s fairly easy to do so with physical disease.
However, mental health problems have serious repercussions for people. The socio-economic repercussions of untreated mental illness can be devastating.
Solutions to mental ill-health
A charitable organization called Strongminds has found several ways to reverse this trend in the global south. They have found that depression is the single most prevalent mental illness with women being twice as likely to be affected than men. The organization focuses its efforts in Africa where 1 in 4 women are affected by depression and 85% of these women have no access to treatment.
Strongmind have developed a low cost method for dealing with the problem. They developed a depression intervention based on Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Strongminds’ therapy model consists of a 12-week period of 60-90 sessions. This model includes pre-screening, group sessions, post-screening and an assessment 6 months after.
Cleverly, the organization is working to empower women who have completed a cycle of group therapy to run their own peer therapy group, making the process scalable and low-cost.
There method is found to help 80% of the women coming in for treatment. It’s a low cost effective model which is sustainable over time. The interventions successfully reconcile evidence-based approach with a human and easily relatable communication strategy.