Tag Archives: mental illness

U.S. Feature | People with Disabilities

The New Segregation

Long-term care for people with chronic illnesses and certain physical and cognitive disabilities has become an important civil rights battle ground over the last two decades. While media attention has focused on government responses to civil rights issues including anti-LGBT legislation and racial inequalities in the criminal justice system, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened more than 50 investigations into what it reports has been the segregation of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities in nursing facilities. Effectively institutionalizing people with disabilities, nursing facilities have detached an estimated 250,000 from economic opportunity and social life, despite a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that people with disabilities should only be placed in nursing facilities if medically necessary. The New York Times analyzes the push for home-based care and the DOJ’s active investigations into violations of protections secured under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s 1999 decision.

South Dakota Wrongly Puts Thousands in Nursing Homes, Government Says” (The New York Times)

Feds: Relying On Nursing Homes For Those With Disabilities Not OK” (Disability Scoop)
Letter on results of investigation into South Dakota’s healthcare practices (U.S. Department of Justice)
Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin Releases Report Showing ADA’s Promise of Integration is Not Being Met for Many Americans with Disabilities” (U.S. Senate press HELP release, July 2013)

(Image Credit: Thinkstock, via Disability Scoop)

Kenya Feature | Mental Illness

The Struggle to Treat Mental Illness in Kenya

Healthcare in Kenya has struggled to reach the portion of the country’s population afflicted with mental illness, particularly those in rural communities. With around one psychiatrist for every 500,000 people in the country, families struggle to find professional support services, and services that do exist are overtaxed and underresourced. Rather than seek medical help, religiously devout communities often turn to faith healers to treat what are commonly accepted as spiritual rather than medical diseases.

People with mental illness find their conditions compounded by poverty and diseases that go unidentified and untreated, facing significant HIV infection rates and vulnerability. Recent efforts by Kenya-based mental health advocacy organizations and foreign investments in the country’s mental health services have created hope for broader treatment and enfranchisement of the community in Kenya, which, like many developing countries, shoulders some of the highest mental health burdens in the world.

Read more:
The taboo of mental illness in Kenya” (Al Jazeera)
Mental Health Care Still a Challenge in Rural Kenya” (Voice of America)
11mn Kenyans suffer mental disorder – WHO” (Capital News)
Double-edged stigma for people with mental illness and HIV” (Key Correspondents)
Kenya benefits from $6.1 million fund for mental health” (Standard Digital)
Fighting the ‘funk:’ How one Kenyan battles her mental health problems by helping others” (Public Radio International)

Africa Mental Health Foundation

(Image Credit: Osaman Mohamed Osaman/Al Jazeera)

Kazakhstan Feature | Men

Kazakhstan’s Unfolding Mental Health Crisis

An economic downturn in Kazakhstan has led to deteriorating mental health conditions for a population of men struggling to find work and support their families in a heavily patriarchal society. Mental health professionals have reported significant increases in the number of male clients, though numbers of those afflicted with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are believed to be significantly underreported given cultural attitudes that deter men from seeking professional help. An IWPR report highlights some of the factors compounding Kazakh men’s social, economic, and psychological alienation and attempts to provide assistance to the community.

Read more:
Kazakhstan’s mental health crisis: ‘as men we can’t seek help’” (Institute for War & Peace Reporting, via The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Igor Kovalenko/EPA, via The Guardian)

Interregional Feature | Refugees with Mental Illness

The Spiraling Mental Health of Syrian Refugees

“Is it because these refugees are coming from somewhere where they’ve seen their families butchered and suffered some kind of trauma? […] Or is it because as refugees they had to wander across half of Africa for a couple years before they ever got to Europe? Or is it because that when they got to Europe and eventually Sweden, they lived in fear of being kicked out of the country?”

As refugees find themselves piling up at closed borders, stuck indefinitely in overcrowded camps, and resettled in countries they may have had little to no connection to, reports are indicating an increasing prevalence of mental health problems and risk of long-term illness. The stresses of war, upended lives, separated families, life-threatening travel, and an uncertain future have caught up to a growing number of refugees, causing severe degradation of their mental health relative to other non-refugee migrant groups.

Humanitarian workers have observed that deteriorating mental health conditions with little access to appropriate healthcare have contributed to violence and vulnerability to radicalization. While refugees tell stories of loss, desperation, and disillusionment, field psychologists report increases in or risk of PTSD, panic disorders, depression, anxiety, and a range of psychotic conditions among refugee populations, further compounding their already marginalized status and setting the stage for potentially lifelong psychological battles.

Read more:
Refugees Suffer a Higher Rate of Psychotic Disorders” (Scientific American)
Lebanon struggles to help Syrian refugees with mental health problems” (Reuters)
Idomeni’s refugees suffer mental anguish” (Deutsche Welle)
Psychological toll on Syrian refugees alarming, many suffer from mental illnesses” (The Daily Sabah)
Syrian Refugees In Canada Face Ongoing Health Challenges: Study” (The Huffington Post)

(Image Credit: D. Tosidis/Deutsche Welle)

Kazakhstan Feature | Mental Illness & Disability

Discovering Opportunity Beyond Illness in Kazakhstan

With an estimated 200,000 registered in the country as afflicted with chronic psychiatric illness, Kazakhstan has a significant population that has suffered under punitive models of psychiatric care inherited from the Soviet era. Psychiatric professionals and advocates are battling the ward-to-grave pipeline and wasted human potential through new efforts to provide visibility for a community that often languishes behind walls in the Central Asian country. In addition to political and medical reforms, work initiatives have given birth to opportunity through businesses like the Training Café, a restaurant in Almaty that employs people with learning disabilities and other mental illnesses. EurasiaNet profiles ongoing efforts to de-institutionalize and integrate Kazakhstanis with mental illness into productive society.

Read more:
Kazakhstan: Cafe Dispels Disability Stereotypes” (EurasiaNet)

Additional reading:
Kazakhstan to eliminate discrimation against disabled persons” (Tengrinews, March 2015)
Business Centre for Disabled Opens in East Kazakhstan” (The Astana Times, June 2015)

(Image Credit: Joanna Lillis/EurasiaNet)

South Africa Feature | Autism

Parenting Autistic Children in South Africa

In South Africa, parents of children on the autism spectrum struggle to find support as they attempt to manage the difficulties of parenting children with special needs. Part one of an SABC News special report highlights challenges facing both children and parents, including abandonment, institutionalization, symptom management, controversial treatments, and a lack of resources in the country.

View the video on the SABC Digital News YouTube channel.

U.S. News | Mental Illness

Texas prepares to execute man despite recognition of mental illness
  • Adam Ward was convicted of the 2005 murder of a code enforcement officer and sentenced to death, now set to become the fifth person executed in Texas in 2016.
  • On appeal, the federal district court acknowledged Ward’s documented bipolar disorder and paranoid delusions, which had been recognized and treated off and on since Ward was 3, but argued that it was insufficient to disqualify him from the death penalty.
  • Ward’s lawyers have appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, including an argument that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Read more:
Execution Set For Man Courts Recognize as Mentally Ill” (The Texas Tribune)
Texas Set To Execute Man Amid Claims Of ‘Severe Mental Illness’” (BuzzFeed News)
Texas to execute Adam Ward unless Supreme Court intervenes” (AP via AL.com)

(Image Credit: tdcj.state.tx.us, via BuzzFeed News)

Indonesia Research & Feature | Mental Illness

Disrupted Minds, Shackled Bodies

Despite its criminalization, the practice of pasung, the physical shackling of people with mental illness, has continued throughout Indonesia, with an estimated 18,000 subjected to the imprisonment according to a new Human Rights Watch report. Families in the poor, rural regions of the Muslim-majority nation often turn to faith-healers and other pseudoscientific practices as mental health services are severely lacking throughout the country. Psychological and social divergence from societal norms are conflated as disruptions to community relations land “violators” in squalor in Indonesia’s poorly maintained mental hospitals.

Read more:
Living in Hell (Human Rights Watch)

Thousands of Mentally Ill Indonesians Are Imprisoned in Shackles, Report Says” (TIME)
Indonesia’s mentally ill languish in shackles” (AFP via Yahoo! News)
‘Living in hell’: mentally ill people in Indonesia chained and confined” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: via Yahoo! News)

Armenia Feature | Mental Illness & Misattributed Identity

Armenia’s Mental Health Problem

Taking the hard tack of institutionalization to handle its citizens with mental illnesses, Armenia has found itself subject to numerous human rights inquiries and accusations from some of the institutionalized claiming false imprisonment. Institutionalization has been wielded in disputes, taking advantage of faults in the legal process that deny those accused of being dangers to themselves or others the right to defend themselves. A condemnation of treatment practices promoting the weaponization of mental health diagnoses, the Guardian‘s report on the defects in Armenia’s mental healthcare system highlights the danger that comes with marginalizing people with mental illnesses.

Read more:
‘They locked me up and left me’: Armenia’s outdated mental health laws” (The Guardian)

Additional coverage:
Armenia: Report Details Psychiatric Hospital Abuses” (EurasiaNet)

(Image Credit: Emma Grigoryan/The Guardian)

Mauritius News | Mental Illness

Mauritius announces review of mental health legislation to protect patients with disabilities and mental illnesses
  • The government announced through a press release that it would begin addressing deficiencies in healthcare treatment for people with mental illnesses.
  • The Minister of Health and Quality of Life pointed specifically to psychiatric care, seniors, and the social security of people with mental illnesses as targets for examination.
  • Mauritius’s mental healthcare budget currently comprises 9.7% of the government’s 9.7 billion rupee ($253,809,090) budget.

“It is our firm conviction at the Ministry that dignity for any patient must mean that the patient is being treated with kindness and compassion.”

Read more:
Mental Health Care Act to be reviewed to better address mental health issues” (Republic of Mauritius Government Information Service)