CONDEMNED – Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis

Where there is war, famine, displacement, it is the most vulnerable that suffer the greatest.

Abandoned by governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies. Africans with mental illness in regions in crisis are resigned to the dark corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, locked away to live behind the bars of filthy prisons.

Some have suffered trauma leading to illness. Others were born with mental disability. In countries where infrastructure has collapsed and mental health professionals have fled, treatment is often the same – a life in chains.

I started documenting the lives of the mentally ill in African countries in crisis in an attempt to raise awareness of their plight. I travelled to war ravaged areas of Congo, South Sudan, Mogadishu and Uganda. I spent time with the displaced in refugee camps in Somalia and Dadaab. In Nigeria I went to see the impacts of corruption on facilities for the mentally ill.

After 12 years of documenting human rights issues I’ve never come across a greater assault on human dignity. These people are unseen and therefore their suffering ignored. This project is being produced in the hope that no longer will ignorance be able to be used as an excuse for inaction.

Category: Features, Mental Health

What Others Are Saying

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  5. coutou October 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Your photos are amazing. I am personally working (inter alia) in this field (more particularly in detention). Your pics reflect very well the assault on the very dignity of mentall ill people in Africa. Hope your work will contribute to raise attention on this plight.

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  11. Saul Krubally counseling Psychologies November 13, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Currently, I am working on a foundation to bring a change to mental health issues in the Gambia and the entire continent of Africa. Africans have to take a stan to make a change to mental illness for our people. I would like to work with any person who is willing to stan against mental illness in Africa.

    • Charity Mvere December 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Indeed there is a great gap in mental health issues World wide and more so in Africa due to poor resourcing. My organisation Christian Counselling and Depression Trust is a local NGO promoting awareness on mental health issues in Zimbabwe. Would like to work with you.

      • Saul Krubally December 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm

        Let’s start working together to make a different for our people. We can make changes to the gap in mental health issues in our Zimbabwe, the Gambia, and of Africa with perseverance. Steady persistence in a course of action and a purpose, to the end leading to eternal salvation.

      • Shep Chid May 3, 2014 at 10:42 am

        I am currently doing research PhD on schizophrenia on Zimbabwe. would love to get in touch with you.

        • Charity Mvere October 21, 2014 at 10:50 am

          Kindly get in touch with me on 0715 882 789

    • Rao May 5, 2014 at 3:59 am

      Met a few psychologists / counsellors during the past one year in The Gambia as a Psychiatrist working as a volunteer for VSO UK. There is no coordination of the those services and most of them are provided on ad hoc basis. Unsustainable services are causing more damage and weakening the progress due to poor cohesiveness.

    • Sarah May 22, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      I lived in The Gambia for two years. While there I met a young boy whose mother was mentally ill and who never knew his father. The boy’s life was very difficult as a result. While there, I also witnessed very disturbing treatment of a different young woman in my village who had a disability and heard upsetting reports of the mentally ill from people living in other villages.

      I am currently still in touch with the boy, who is now all grown up and living in Ghana. I have helped him over the years. To help further, I am considering starting a non-profit to help the mentally ill in Africa and their families. I would love to talk more with you. Please send an e-mail so we can touch base on this.

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  19. Florence February 13, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Gut wrenching! Charity and Saul, I would like to explore the possibility of working with you both. I am looking at what can be done in Northern Uganda where the effects of decades of war are being manifested in many many ways including a significant increase in mental health related issues.

    • Charity Mvere October 21, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Kindly get in touch with me, on 263 715 882 789

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  21. sahil khan February 18, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Your pics are truly amazing as it shows actual mental health in african countries.

  22. Lucy Newberry April 11, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I find it very sad and unjust that people are still treated like this around the world. Everywhere, and all throughout history, human beings can be the most inhumane creatures that exist. How in the world can anyone turn their backs on other human beings in need?

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  25. Cory Newman July 4, 2014 at 3:17 am

    I visit Africa annually and this is something I strongly wish to support. Please keep me informed. Thank you so much for your work!!

  26. Laura Turner August 27, 2014 at 7:44 am

    I watched Campbell Live tonight and saw the feature on you. The work you do is amazing, so upsetting to see and unbelievably disturbing. I don’t know how I can help but I would like to.

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  29. Ciaran K October 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    First up, congradulations on the Dr. Guislain award. I’m just looking at your material find it very emotive.

  30. Sussane November 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Like everyone else around the world, I constantly find myself asking how and why regarding the plight of people suffering from serious mental health in Kenya, as the situation is extremely disturbing. I live in the UK and visit Kenya constantly. I would like to be involved in anything that can provide effective and successful social rehabilitation services for those mentally ill, instead of leaving those discharged from institutions such as Mathari Mental Hospital Kenya and others around the world without any form of social support.

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  32. Margaret Ojo February 20, 2015 at 11:01 am

    What a beautiful depiction of the troubled mind …. These pictures inspired and troubled me, because it highlighted the reality of the situations around mental health in Africa. I am also a member of the BME Black Minority & Ethnic group at the Royal College of Nursing in England as part of the Race & Culture Network.. We are due to have our health & well being week at work and one of the topics of the day is Mental Health …as the race and Culture Network we have been asked if there are any activities we would like to undertake for the day, upon my research I came accross these pictures and suggested a presentation by the BME group featuring Robin Hammonds pictures to create publicity and awareness around how mental health is perceived in African Countries and how victims of this disease are neglected and abused by entire societies and how it reflects on human dignity. So far I have had very positive responses and I have had people ask if they can make donations to help these people. I will be very grateful if you could forward me info around this and i would be happy to engage to create publicity and awareness of these issues and to see how we can assist.

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