What are the differences in the way mental health is approached in developing vs. developed countries? Talk about what you would change about each approach and what you think is successful?
Due to cultural stigmas, lack of education, lack of trained professionals and fear of judgment in society there is a severe lack of mental health treatments especially in developing countries. Over time people were punished for their mental health problems and were hidden away from society. In both developed and developing countries there is a lack of discussion over why mental health is important. However, developed countries in recent years have improved the image over mental health and made it less taboo of a topic. Developed countries have access to resources like therapists, psychiatrists, and things like group therapy where they can talk through what they feel and gain support from other people who are going through similar problems so that they feel less alone. Developed countries also have access to medications like antidepressants, anti-anxiety, ADHD medication, and other medications that help regulate abnormal mental processes. There has been increasing social acceptance over mental health problems in the past decade and especially in colleges they have made access to mental health professionals much greater. All of these resources in developed countries help promote conversation and awareness over mental health. It helps that people know there is always some sort of resource for them to cope in case they have no where else to turn. Some ways to improve developed countries and mental health even more would be to introduce the idea of it at a young age and teach children about it earlier on so that they know it exists and let them know that it is okay to feel sad or mad sometimes. By doing this they will feel more okay talking about their feelings and problems they face as they get older and they will feel less hesitant going to get help in the future. Developing countries differ from developed countries greatly when it comes to treating and dealing with mental health. Because there is such a huge lack of untrained professionals people with mental illnesses are often put in prison-like cells. Specifically, in Indonesia the mental health facility runs much like a prison where the people are only let out to eat. Uncooperative patients were specifically chained to bars so that they wouldn’t try to run away or cause other disturbances. The employees at this facility also had limited training on treating mental illness and no licensed psychiatrists were employed. When trained professionals came in, they taught the staff to treat the inmates like healthy individuals and be gentle. (Emont) Though this one specific facility was improving, it is just one example of how mental health is poorly treated in developing nations. A huge issue for developing nations is allocating funding for mental health, because much of the money is usually spent on more immediate health problems like tuberculosis or malaria. This approach to mental illness in developing countries is a start, and it is good that such a place does exist. However, conditions in the facility need to be changed and many more trained and licensed mental health professionals will need to be hired to make the facility appropriate. The patients will also need to be treated humanely, and be kept in a more up to date and lively facility so that it does not seem as if they are being punished for their mental illness. Obviously these changes will require significantly more money and infrastructure to solve, but in the future it may be possible.
If you began a mental health organization in a developing country, what method(s) would you use to reduce stigma?
In developing nations there is little to no treatment methods for mental illness. One big problem is that there is a significant lack of education and trained professions who understand mental illness and know how to treat it. Another problem is that less than 10% of the world has access to mental health care so pairing the lack of professionals with the lack of access makes it difficult for many to get the help they need. Another huge issue in developing countries is a lack of education on these topics in local communities and villages. Many people who do not know why they, or their family members are acting differently so they typically attribute it to a curse on their family or an act of punishment by god. Thus, they may hide away or their family may hide them away because of shame and fear of judgment by others. If I began a mental health organization in a developing country, I would try to solve many of these problems. One of the greatest solutions is starting education programs about mental health for all and starting from a young age. Education would include recognition of symptoms, causes and solutions, so that people will understand from a base level what mental health is and that it is not rooted in any one cause. Starting mental health from a young age would help start the conversation and allow people to understand it and recognize it when they are older. It will also help people cope with it and learn that they should not be ashamed or embarrassed by it. I would also attempt to connect and form groups for group therapy so that people can have an open and welcoming environment where they can talk about how they feel and not feel alone or judged by anyone. If possible I would try to run mobile clinics through areas where mental health problems are high and have trained professionals (hopefully people of similar culture and backgrounds as those they are treating) come and talk to individuals about how they are feeling and establish treatment plans. By opening up this type of conversation and openness in these developing nations we can hopefully increase awareness and funding for mental health problems all over the world.
What are some of the ‘real world’ challenges that Tate met in implementing his designs? What challenges do you see for him moving forward?
Tate Rogers, an NC State engineering graduate, received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and further design the idea he had for emptying pit latrines called the “Excrevator.” In developing nations sanitation is a huge issue as many people do not have access to toilets or waste facilities and end up defecating in rivers, which contaminates the drinking water. Pit latrines are one solution to this problem, however they have to be emptied every so often to prevent overflowing, and often this work is dirty and extremely unsanitary for everyone involved. Tate’s invention of the Excrevator was designed, tested, and refined in in America and was then shipped to South Africa for testing. Some of the challenges they found while testing the machinery was that people would dump things like trash or clothes in the pit latrines which would then get stuck in the machinery and cause clogging. Additionally, some of the pit latrines would be designed differently so some would not be accessible without digging around the latrine structure. When refining the Excrevator Tate came up with new modifications that would hopefully be useful in the future. The team has come up with things like the Omni Ingestor Program which can capture, store, transport, treat, and reuse the waste for things like fertilizer. Though Tate and his team have come up with significant solutions to problems like pit emptying there are still major challenges that may be faced in the future like funding, governmental support in each place he tries to sell the equipment, creating a profitable market as well as a business plan, manufacturing of the equipment so that it can be accessible to even the smallest of villages, and educating people how how to use the machinery, fix the machinery, and maintain the machinery so that they keep using it and do not give up if one thing breaks down. Once everything is refined and all the little problems are solved I know Tate and his team have a great potential with the work they have done.
Emont, Jon. “The Prison of Mental Illness in Indonesia.” US News. News & World Report, 14 Sept. 2016. Web. 30 May 2017.