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Reisverslag Raising awareness for mental health in Africa
15 oktober 2011
Raising awareness for mental health in Africa
After the conference we had a nice dinner at a very classy restaurant (Taj Cape Town) and it was really delicious. When we came back around 20.30 there were several persons who still weren’t tired, and since I had offered to present my Eindhoven Model as an optional side-event for those who are interested, I went upstairs to my room on the 12th floor to get my poster and my leaflets.
About 8 persons joined my workshop (and 6 were in another group for drafting the constitution of PANUSP) so almost everyone was working late.
I presented my Eindhoven Model: the Open Mind-Support meeting for finding alternatives for coercion (based on Family Group Conferencing). It wasn’t a fully fluent presentation, because I hadn’t really prepared to talk about it. But it still went fine, and it was understood, despite of the slightly chaotic order of telling things. (and now I know I have to prepare myself better for the World Mental Health Congress next week).
After explaining the model of Open Mind-Support meetings, Gabor Gombos also explained some more key aspects of the social model approach, and he mentioned that there is a very effective and similar model in Finland that is called Open Dialogue for schizophrenia, which has roughly the same characteristics as the Open Mind-support meeting.
All participants were positive about this social model, but also we need to think on how this could work in Africa, where stigma is still very big, and where chaining and shackling is still so widely spread and also done by families. There are many beliefs in Africa: Traditional, Christian, Muslim and so on. And prayer camps and shrines are more accepted and more present than psychiatric institutions. So generally shackling and fasting are common treatments for persons with mental distress in Africa.
This was also illustrated today. Right after the conference a very professional and dedicated photographer had come for taking a group picture, and he had shown us his heart breaking pictures of treatments of persons with mental distress, which he took throughout Africa, mainly in warzones and other problematic areas. You can see these photos at www.condemned-africa.com
The images speak for themselves, tears rolling down…
These pictures show how important it is to support African user movements. These human right violations need to be addressed. I will keep on doing what I can. I feel so connected to this. I know what it feels like to be mechanically restrained. I will not accept this, and so I’m fighting against it, by supporting African user organizations.
The pictures are clear... this can’t be ignored. So let’s get active!
It’s a challenge to develop a social model for the African situation, but stigma can be beaten, and awareness can arise. It is possible. But I don’t think it will be easy. And afterwards we kept on talking and talking and talking about all kind of interesting user-survivor issues, especially how Africa shouldn’t make the same mistakes as Europe in developing a psychiatric system. The medical model brings no solution, and the social model has very promising results, such as the Open Dialogue in Finland, which actually appeared to reduce and resolve schizophrenia significantly. That is very promising.
And now I will close with the same slogan as the conference day 2 has ended today:
Another world is not only possible, she’s on her way. Maybe many of us won’t be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing.” (Arundhati Roy, 2004)
15 oktober 2011 13:13 | Door: Tony
Funny, you explained Eindhovens model so many times already :)
Keep up the good work!
16 oktober 2011 16:04 | Door: je moeder
Goed gedaan meid! Ik ben trots op je!
16 oktober 2011 23:38 | Door: Jolijn
Presenting the key aspects and strengths of this model in English is really different. The words don't flow as they flow in Dutch. And it all is a bit further away. It's good I noticed that I need to do some extra preparation, to find the right words. And nerves may have played a role too, but that also can be solved by better preparation. No problem.