At CBM, we recognise that good mental health is essential to the wellbeing of individuals and their families. The evidence shows that apart from the personal impact of social exclusion, there is an enormous loss to communities if people with mental health challenges are not able to participate in the economy and broader society. 

Mental health and poverty

Many of the poorest countries in the world spend less than 1% of their health budget on mental health. People in many of these countries experience poverty and unemployment, poor health and education systems. These all work together, increasing vulnerability to mental illness.

Mental health challenges

Mental health challenges are a common cause of disabilities worldwide, accounting for approximately one third of all disability globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions, as well as epilepsy, dementia, alcohol and substance misuse often cause distressing symptoms that are not given the priority they deserve in health services.

Fortunately, the last decade has experienced a significant growth in interest in mental health as a development issue. This is evident in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030, which includes many important references to mental health and wellbeing.

The need for community-based programs

There is strong evidence of the need for effective, culturally appropriate, and community-based interventions. These enable local people to build their own local support groups, raise awareness and advocate for their rights in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). CBM has worked closely with WHO and others in the development of resources for this, and many partners are already using them.

There is still a lot of work to be done, however through this approach more people with mental health issues will be able to receive the support that they need to assist them on their path to recovery and full participation in their community.

How we help

CBM’s work with people with mental health challenges in the following ways:

Strengthening local voice

Individuals find out and understand their rights, share and learn insights on mental health issues and gain skills to advocate for themselves and their community. This brings the local voice of people with disabilities to the fore with the issues they know are central.

Community development

Our partners and organisations of people with disabilities work with families and communities to raise awareness and reduce stigma relating to mental health. This builds understanding and breaks down the barriers being faced, so that people living with mental health challenges have opportunities including a social life, earning a decent living, and accessing other services.

Influencing government

By demonstrating what is possible through our community development work, we influence governments to strengthen policy, improve legislation and invest in inclusive mental health and social care services.

Our work in West Africa and Asia

CBM supports a number of projects focusing on community mental health, in West Africa and Asia. The projects cover a range of activities including the training of national and regional leaders at a community level.

CBM aims to bring about long-lasting change to benefit the lives of those challenged with mental health concerns in the communities in which they live.

Find out more about our Field Programs