Bangladesh has a population of 160 million people.
But only 50 clinical psychologists and 200 psychiatrists. That’s 800,00 people for every 1 mental health specialist.
Many people are left powerless, desperate for support, and dependent on traditional healers and faith leaders for ‘cures’. This leads to malpractices, human rights abuses and unnecessary deaths. Myths such as that a mental health episode is caused by evil spirits, can lead communities to affix deeply oppressive social stigma on to people with psychosocial conditions. People with mental health problems often live in isolation and are excluded from their communities. Sometimes they are hidden away or even abused by their families.
“People go to traditional faith healers because they believe they have no other choice.
If you have malaria you know the doctor can help you, but no one knows that there are doctors who can treat mental health crises. There are thousands of malpractices happening, such as burying people up to their neck in soil and leaving them for 48 hours to purge out the demons.”
Mahajabin, Mental Health Project Officer.
Partnering with disability activists.
ADD International partners with mental health activists in Bangladesh to help them access the tools, resources and support they need to build powerful movements for change.
1. Challenge stigma. Activists raise awareness with individuals living with a mental health condition, their families and communities. Together they work to challenge stigma and change attitudes, so that symptoms can be understood and changes can be made to manage conditions.
2. Access to services and support. Activists engage health care professionals to make sure they have the skills, tools and resources to work with people with mental health problems, listen to them, and agree a plan to help them manage their problem, through care, counselling, and sometimes medicine.
3. Influence power holders. Activists engage power holders to ensure an enabling legal and policy environment and that mental health support and services are available, accessible and properly resourced.
Let's build movements together.
The journey ahead for mental health activists in Bangladesh is long: shifting deeply entrenched social stigma and changing national policies does not happen overnight. Right now, organisations of disability activists are working to fight discrimination and ensure every disabled person gets a fighting chance at living their best life. They urgently need your support.