Thursday, October 20, 2011

SPOTLIGHT on the Nepal Mental Health Foundation

The Nepal Mental Health Foundation is the first of its kind in the country and the effort is spearheaded by one man, Jagganath Lamichhane. Jagganath is remarkable in his dedication to the cause of mental health education and reform in his native land, despite having the door closed on him by almost all international and multi-national NGOs.

According to the NMHF website, mental health is the highly overlooked and neglected dimension of public health in Nepal. Despite the fact that mental illness is one of the most prevalent health conditions in world, around 90% of the people in the Low and Middle Income Countries (LAMICs) like Nepal do not get treatment. In Nepal, less than 0.20% of health care expenditures by the government are directed towards mental health.

There is no mental health policy and no human rights review body with the authority to inspect mental health facilities and to impose sanctions on those facilities that persistently violate patient's rights.

For mental health treatment, there is scarcity of resources, inequities in their distribution and inefficiencies in their utilization. Resources included are policy and infrastructure within countries, mental health services, and community, human, and financial resources. Research shows that over 80% of mental disorders are preventable and treatable, but in LAMICs like Nepal only 10% of the population gets access to care and treatment.

According to government resources, Nepal, a country of 27.1 million people, there are approximately 40 licensed psychiatrists, 5 clinical psychologists, and only 108 public inpatient psychiatric beds, mostly concentrated in the capital city Kathmandu.

Nepal Mental Health Foundation (NMHF) is the mental health consumer based human rights organization. Stigma erodes the confidence of mentally ill people and their families to seek treatment and to believe that mental disorders are valid and treatable health conditions. Their mission is to establish the importance of mental health and to make society aware that it is as important as physical health to the overall well-being of individuals, societies and countries.
The Foundation has three major goals:
Nepal Mental Health Foundation works towards achieving major three goals:
• To increase public understanding and awareness on mental health based on scientific researches.
• To reduce the stigma and discrimination against people with mental illness.
• To advocate for mental health policies and human rights of mentally ill people in the country and around the world in collaboration with national and international partner organizations.

Please visit their website at

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Field of Hope

iFred (International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression) is working to eliminate the stigma of depression since the launch of the Field of Hope in Ghana in 2009. This creative and unique initiative is designed to shine the spotlight on depression in Africa, and to raise money for depression reseach and advocacy efforts worldwide. Africa was chosen to host the field to highlight and educate just how poorly the disease is understood.

iFred has also chosen the sunflower as the international symbol for depression, and has launched a major ad campaign showing the relationships of sunflowers to depression survivors. According to their website:

"•A recent study by Rutger’s, the State University of New Jersey, showed that flowers have an immediate positive impact on happiness (100% of time, both males and females), that they have a long-term positive effect on moods, and that they make intimate connections. The study also said sunflowers are said to enhance alertness, as yellow light waves stimulate the brain.
•A recent study by Texas A&M also found that placing flowers and plants in offices led individuals to be more creative, better problem solvers, and more productive.
•A sunflower is the color yellow, often associated with joy and happiness.
•Sunflowers flourish with sun and light. Humans do as well.
•Sunflowers and depression both have lifecycles.
•Sunflowers grow from a small seed and can get bigger, as can a depressive episode when left untreated."

For more information on iFred, please visit and or email:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

International Diploma on Mental Health Law and Human Rights

ILS Law College, University of Pune, India, in partnership with the World Health Organization launched the first ever one-year International Diploma in Mental Health Law & Human Rights in 2008. Based on materials and tools developed by WHO, the diploma provides the law students with essential knowledge and skills for a career in the area of mental health, human rights and legislation. The fourth class is currently underway at ILS.

This unique Diploma is designed to appeal to a wide range of people interested in mental health including health workers, legal professionals, policy makers, and service users and family members.

The main objectives of the Diploma are: to equip students with the knowledge and understanding of international human rights standards for people with mental disorders; to apply these standards to mental health legislation; to understand the role of legislation in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with mental disorders; to understand how mental health policy and services can work to improve the human rights of people with mental disorders; and to equip the students with a broad contextual knowledge of the law and apply the same in the process of drafting, amending and implementing mental health legislation.

It is expected that the Diploma will equip the students to undertake advocacy work in this area and equip them with the knowledge and skills to actively support countries to drafting and amending mental health laws in line with international human rights standards such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The course begins with a 2 week onsite session at the ILS Law College at the University of Pune, India, with another one week at the end of the course for exams and project presentations. In between students are required to complete online lectures, study exercises, essays or other homework assignments. In addition, students will complete 1 extended essay (4000-5000 words each) and a research project (15000 words). The cost is 5500 Euros and scholarships are available. Please visit for more information. For more information on the host institution, ILS Law College, please visit