Tuesday, 09 Mar 2021
Author: Jane Edge, CEO of CBM Australia
Effective, holistic mental health services are crucial if people are to reach their potential – especially for people who face barriers to social inclusion including people with disabilities.
This is particularly true in a country like Nepal, which has a very high suicide rate, and where services are limited and there is serious stigma about mental health challenges that prevent people from seeking help and treatment.
In early 2020 I was fortunate to visit Nepal and meet with some of CBM Australia’s partner agencies, where I heard about the profound disadvantage experienced by some of the poorest people and communities. Poverty, unemployment and domestic violence tragically combine to create even more vulnerability in the form of mental illness and psychosocial conditions. In Nepal, I was able to meet an amazing woman named Bodum through our partner agency CMC-Nepal (Centre for Mental Health and Counselling) and hear her powerful story. Mother of two young girls, she was isolated and in despair before joining the CMC program. Her husband was often away for work and she was ostracised by his family, which caused her great pain..
Bodum told me that before she engaged with a community mental health program through CMC-Nepal, she was bereft of hope, struggling to care for her daughters and rarely leaving the house.
Her mental health was so poor that she was contemplating taking her own life, which would have left her daughters without a mother. As the mother of two girls myself, I was so moved by her story…a story that has new chapters of hope. Once Bodum was able to access treatment and counselling she began to improve. She gained so much from also meeting others who shared similar experiences to her and to realise she was not alone.
With treatment and support, her mental health improved and she began to engage again with the world and said she felt able to care for her girls.. As part of the program, she received a loan and has learned how to sew, now earning an income as a tailor. Her relationship with her husband’s family is better than it has ever been.
Crucially, she is a wonderful advocate as part of the mental health self-help group, helping other women who are experiencing challenges. Our partner agency says that this work has undoubtedly prevented other women from taking their own lives.
Bodum’s story of recovery and empowerment is one of the many made possible by our partners and compassionate Australians who support our work financially and through prayer – thank you for being part of this movement of the heart, enabling transformative change in the lives of people with disabilities.