HealthNet TPO builds knowledge in health systems on mental health, working with governments, local health authorities and local health providers. The programmes seek to raise awareness on the necessity of integrating mental health treatments into primary health care. HealthNet TPO supports governments in implementing their mental health policies in health systems approaches; following the recent WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme, focusing on scaling up mental health services in developing countries. This document is important as a means of advocacy for mental health to convince donors: NGO’s face the challenge that the international donor community so far rarely includes a priority for mental health in funding.
Examples of such work
In Afghanistan HealthNet TPO has been active in mental health support from 2002. A project was started to introduce mental health issues into the primary health care system. The programme also supports the mental health policy, planning, and implementation capacity of the central Ministry of Public Health. Read more about the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programme in Afghanistan.
Similar developments of support to the integration of mental health into existing primary health systems have taken place in Burundi since 2001. Read more about the Mental health and psychosocial care programme in Burundi.
In DR Congo HealthNet TPO works together with the government on the formulation and first start-up of the implementation of a national mental health policy. Since early 2008, important relations are developed with different stakeholders at community level and with local health and municipal authorities. Read more about the Mental health and psychosocial care programme in DR Congo.
In Eritrea a training programme for nurses has prepared the decentralisation of mental healthcare from 2003 till 2008. The programme unfortunately ended earlier than planned due to governmental decisions.
The term ‘mental disorders’ is used to refer to a broad category of disorders, such as affective disorders (major depression, dysthymia) and different anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, et cetera). Their essential features are disturbances in emotions, often accompanied by cognitive distortions such as excessive worry, negative thinking and by somatic expressions (unexplained medical symptoms that are often the presenting complaints in primary health care settings).
The World Health Organization (WHO) also emphasizes the importance of mental health in developing countries. Please find the interview that was held with Mr Kjell Magne Bondevik, Founder and President of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights and former Prime Minister of Norway, Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi from Uganda and Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO, which was recorded during the mhGAP Forum on 10 October 2011. Click to listen to the podcast and to find more information about the activities of WHO in the field of mental health.