Right now the communities we work with – from Guatemala to Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe – are striving to ensure people experiencing mental health conditions receive care and support. Alongside partner organisations, we’re assisting the efforts of local people and health workers so they can raise awareness, change their communities’ approach to mental health and support people to live with fewer barriers to good mental health and wellbeing.
Help to bring communities together to support mental health by giving to Health Poverty Action's and Find Your Feet’s mental health appeal.
John is a farmer from Chimanimani in Zimbabwe. He has been trained by local people on Find Your Feet’s programme and supported to aid his community in promoting good mental health and wellbeing. His role was vital in helping the community bounce-back after cyclone Idai devastated their district, leaving over 4,000 people displaced from their homes. Crops that people relied on for income and as a source of food were also destroyed, including John’s.
Due to the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness, my people could not disclose that they had family members with mental illnesses. I had to put my cell phone number in public places to promote private conversations. Oh! That night I did not sleep with text messages flowing in my phone whilst others were calling…This worked very well. I visited them all. [The mental health training] helped me and my networks to cope with this horrible situation.
What are we doing to support communities?
Communities are at the heart of what we do. We work with them to help overcome barriers to good mental health and wellbeing, which is more likely to create long-term, powerful change. We do this by:
Busting stigma & raising awareness
In Guatemala, we offer culturally appropriate stress-busting workshops so that traditional birth attendants can pass this knowledge on to the rest of the community, and use it themselves. We also help local people put on community ‘roadshow’ events in Zimbabwe to help communities learn more about mental health. We train local health champions and religious leaders in remote villages on how to bust stigmas that prevent people from seeking help. This plays a part in changing communities’ approach to mental health, and means that people experiencing mental health conditions can live more fulfilling lives.
Training healthcare workers
Our programmes include training for local healthcare workers to ensure they have the right tools and skills to support people living with mental health conditions in areas where there is little to no funding for this. Otilia, one of the nurses our programme has trained in Zimbabwe, can tell you more:
Alongside our partner organisations, the programme in Zimbabwe has provided mental health training to over 400 community leaders, community health workers and traditional healers.
Helping to integrate people living with mental health conditions into the community
For example, in Zimbabwe, we train people on sustainable farming methods, and how to market and sell their goods for an income. This not only helps alleviate the stress of making money to cover basic needs but also shows the community that people living with a mental health condition shouldn’t be left out of day to day life. We also push to ensure that people living with a mental health condition are actively involved in government decisions about mental health.
Speaking out on the root causes of poverty and inequality
Facing stressful events or obstacles in our lives makes good mental health more of a challenge. The inequality, poverty and injustices that the communities we work with face every day affect their mental wellbeing. Our work to challenge the legacies of colonialism, pushing governments to put people’s health before profits and take a public health approach to illegal drugs, all seek to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and inequality. This supports our efforts to improve everyone’s mental health too.
Please note that we are unable to provide mental health services to members of the public. If you are seeking help, we recommend that you contact The Samaritans who offer 24 hour, confidential emotional support. You can call them for free on 116 123. If you live in England and you require urgent mental health support, we advise you to contact an NHS helpline.