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Innovation in Global Mental Health: Shifting the conversation

 

Why is a global dialogue on 'what is' and 'how to do' global mental health innovation important now

Rising levels of collective distress

Watercoloring panting showing a domestic violence scene at a home during COVID as the police are called by the neighbors.

It feels like right now everyone is anxious and worried. Since mid-March 2020, across Africa the impact of COVID-19 has been felt by the slowdown of most national economies, schools were closed for months, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy increased, and many jobs are gone forever. During this time, to enforce new COVID-19 rules police and other government instruments were violently used. People were arrested for curfew violations, and in some cases, young people were killed. Generally, civil society space was further restricted. COVID-19 has highlighted what global collective distress looks like. Overall, there has been a growing level of both fear and frustration - impacting our collective wellbeing.

It is not the time for business as usual

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People don’t always know how to support each other during hard times because we’re told by the neo-liberal, capitalist system to deal with our problems on our own, often going against collective culture and traditions. Today we need new narratives of shared distress to replace the failed one of individual disorders. We need human connection and mutual support.  Today the global mental health infrastructure is designed by the same neo-liberal system which emphasizes individual health care. A shift in the conversation is needed.

New global mental health innovation must do more than bring "stress relief" to people who are essentially surviving.


Currently, the main approaches to treating mental health problems are medication and talking therapies. But professionalized mental health care is never going to be scalable. And to be honest, in many places, it is not culturally desired.  New innovations cannot be business as usual. They must be a disruption of the status quo. More than ever before because of the current global challenges with COVID-19, but also the unknown challenges that we will face in the coming decade due to climate change. Thus, mental health innovations will need to address unknown social and environmental challenges.

To read more of Dr. Angi Yoder-Maina's article, please click here.

A blog written in support of the 1st Annual Global Mental Health Innovation Imaginarium co-hosted by The Global MINDS Collective and The MHPSS Collaborative.

To learn more about the Imaginarium or to join it you can find more information here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/g...aff=ebdsoporgprofile

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