To this day, international interventions geared towards mental health target mainly emergency situations, dealing essentially with treating the consequences of traumatic experiences and the losses suffered by the affected communities and individuals.
These actions are often on-the-spot and without any long-term sustainability plans, in contexts where there were no, or scarce, mental health services available before the traumatic event. In the majority of cases the aid comes in the form of prescription drugs which, unfortunately, many times can do more harm than good.
In areas where other important public health issues occur, (such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, etc.) financing mental health is considered a luxury. This is basically the current situation in all low-income countries.
Depression, anxiety, psychosis, mood disorders and many others are not communicable diseases and therefore it is the widespread opinion that they are not life-threatening. Many of these diseases are even considered to be non-existent in poor countries, as if they were “diseases of the wealthy” and well-being in poor countries ought to be measured only in material terms.
However, extreme poverty and social problems cause varying degrees of psycho-social fragility.
Investing, even substantially, in developing human capital through education, capacity building, vocational training and income-generating activities will not be effective if the individual is not rebuilt from the inside first.
Psycho-social, emotional and mental well-being are determining factors in a person’s ability to lead a full and active life: to be able to interact, communicate, study, work and make everyday decisions and choices. In other words, mental health is required for a person to be the protagonist of his or her own life.
We believe that only through adequate investment in the mental capital of the individual and the community can one become the agent of his or her own development.