“We are working in the most dangerous place in the world, Mogadishu!” shouts Dr Habeb who runs the only mental health clinic in Mogadishu, Somalia. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 1 in 3 Somali’s suffer from some kind of mental illness. From the camps for Internally Displaced People dotted around the region to the bombed out streets of Mogadishu is a generation of Somalis who’ve only known war, famine, displacement, and loss. Mass psychological trauma is the result.
The WHO says that in the last decade 90% of the treated patients it surveyed in Somalia were subjected at least once in their lifetime to chaining. Chaining patients is seen as an alternative medication, which not only leaves the patients stigmatized but also causes physical injuries on hands and legs. Some of the chained patients end up committing suicide. The person is usually shackled not only during the ‘acute crisis’ but throughout his or her life.