World Mental Health Day: We are in it Together

Today we mark the  World Mental Health Day with the theme ‘ Young people and mental health in a changing world’.

The expanding use of online technologies undoubtedly brings many benefits but also additional pressure. In addition, a significant number of people live in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics in addition to widening inequality and poverty. WHO notes that half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Among adolescents, suicide is the second leading cause of death followed closely by depression.

 

  1. Today we profile a Ted Talk by Ghanaian born entrepreneur and lawyer Sangu Delle entitled ‘There is no shame in taking care of your mental health’.  He seeks to demystify and highlight the stigma against mental health issues in most of Africa and especially among men that will make them shy away from seeking intervention. He notes the ‘need to realise that our mental struggles do not detract from our virility, nor does our trauma taint our strength. We need to see mental health as important as physical health. We need to stop suffering in silence. We must stop stigmatising disease and traumatising the afflicted’.

 

 

2.  We also share an article by Australian lawyer and Diversity and Inclusion consultant Mariam Veiszadeh available here (‘please do not tell us to pray away our mental health issues‘) in which she notes  how widely misguided and uninformed society generally is when it comes to mental health and well being. She believes this deep lack of awareness severely hinders treatment and early diagnosis, which results in victims suffering in silence. ‘As I’ve said to so many over the years, we turn to a medical professional to help us when we have a physical condition. We don’t simply just pray for a cure, so by the same logic, why are we so hesitant to seek help from a professional when we are presented with a mental condition? While spiritual healing can certainly support recovery, it cannot and must not be seen as an alternative to seeking professional help.’

3.  I am also honoured to share a previously shared article by the Zambian based disability inclusion advocate Georgina Mumba  that is available here with the title ‘Disability and Mental Health: A burden too heavy to bear‘ in which she draws the link between mental health and disability. ‘ mental health is a real challenge for persons with disabilities as they grapple with the challenges of their impairments, some of which include health complications, and issues of disability. Stigma, exclusion, isolation, abuse etc are challenges that are sometimes more compounded in our homes and communities than in institutions where persons with disabilities do not only have each other for support but also sometimes have access to professional help. The bottom line is we are all part of the problem until we start being part of the solution’.

 

 

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International Week of The Deaf

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International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf)

is an initiative of the WFD and was first launched in 1958 in Rome, Italy. It is celebrated annually by the global Deaf Community on the last full week of September to commemorate the same month the first World Congress of the WFD was held. IWDeaf is celebrated through various activities by respective Deaf Communities worldwide. These activities call for participation and involvement of various stakeholders including families, peers, governmental bodies, professional sign language interpreters, and DPOs.

International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL)

has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and is celebrated annually on 23 September beginning in 2018. The objective of the IDSL is to raise awareness on sign languages and strengthen the status about sign languages. This event also will take place as part of the International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf), which is celebrated on the last full week of September.

The World Federation of the Deaf is a global organisation working to ensure equal rights for 70 million deaf people around the globe.  To read about their work, please click here.

One of the many organisations working to support the rights of Deaf Children and Young Adults is Deaf Child Worldwide and you can also read about their work here.

An interesting account of the history of special education in the Philippines, starting with the establishment of a school for the Deaf and Blind can also be read here.

We would like to celebrate the life and achievement of Prof. Michael Ndurumo, a Professor of Psychology in Kenya, who is deaf.  Please read his inspiring story here.

Did you know that Ludwig van Beethoven, the famous German composer, was deaf? His last words were reported to be, “I shall hear in heaven”.  A long list of other notable Deaf people can be found here.

Finally, we would like to quote again from the World Federation of the Deaf:

70 million deaf people.

300+ sign languages.

Unlimited potential.

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Disability Inclusion: Now is The Time

The Global Disability Summit was hosted by DFID, the Government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) on 23 and 24 July 2018, in London, UK.  The ‘Charter for Change’ is the official Summit legacy document and is intended to ensure global consensus to address inclusion, and support the rights of persons with disabilities around the world. All organisations and governments are called to sign up to the Charter by emailing ‘yes’ to GDScommitments@DFID.gov.uk.

Among the key speeches in the event was one by H.E. Mr. Lenin Moreno Garcés, President of Ecuador who is the first person that uses a wheelchair to be elected as a head of state in Latin America, and an influential figure who has improved rights for people with disabilities on an international and national level.  Among other positions, he was formerly UN Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility from 2013-16.

Rachel Aston CBM shared the below highlights within current global narratives around disability and development in her article ‘Global Disability Summit: 4 actions to further inclusion’:

  1. Efforts should be led by people with disabilities, and their representative organisations, in development processes that impact them.
  2. Recognise diversity and intersectionality (‘multiple discriminations’) of people with disabilities
  3. Implement international agreements and standards like the CRPD and SDGs.
  4. Commit money and resources to inclusion within global financing processes and national budgets. This should factor the universal design principles (whereby no one is excluded from facilities or services because of an impairment).

We are also honored to share a profile on Mr Harrison Kariuki, a 28 year old who is currently a volunteer teacher at the Kapsabet School for the Deaf in Kenya, and who is also deaf himself.

“I am now a volunteer at the Kapsabet School for the Deaf, because I understand the challenges that deaf people face. I know what the pupils here are going through and I want to act as a role model so they see that deaf people can have a positive future. I love teaching my pupils sign language because it helps me to help them advocate for their rights. You need to be able to communicate with others in order to advocate for your rights, so by teaching sign language, I empower my pupils’.  You can read more about Harrison’s work here.

 

 

International Albinism Awareness Day

For this post, we are celebrating International Albinism Awareness Day, 13th June.

People with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide. Albinism is still profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically. The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous attitudes, beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, which foster their marginalisation and social exclusion. This leads to various forms and practices of stigma and discrimination, and endanger the security and lives of persons with albinism who are at constant risk. These beliefs and myths are centuries old and are present in cultural attitudes and practices around the world.

On 18 December 2014, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming, with effect from 2015, 13th June as International Albinism Awareness Day.

Please find below a few resources that shed more light on why this day is important for all of us.

  • GIZA (Darkness) is a beautiful short film made by Isack Abel from Tanzania who has albinism and in which he expresses his feelings about the Fight Against Albino Killings. Please watch this and share widely for awareness and action.
  • A BBC documentary on ‘living differently‘ that features Leo, a young man whose brother and sister also have albinism. Although he struggled to accept the condition as a child, Leo grew to be proud of his unique looks and has become a model. Leo’s high profile modelling career is a source of inspiration to other young people with albinism.
  • Salif Keita Global Foundation – Salif Keita is a world renowned musician from Mali. He is the first African to receive a Grammy nomination for his album “AMEN” and has been cited as “one of the greatest talents Africa has ever produced”.  Mr. Keita has raised awareness about the plight of albinos in Africa around the world to millions of people with the help of campaigns, albums, interviews, books, social media, and mainstream media. His foundation is the leading organisation in raising global awareness for the cause of albinism in Africa.
  • Under The Same Sun (UTTS) is an organisation that works support people with albinism become fully contributing members of an inclusive and equitable society.
  • UN resources on albinism. More resources about the UN Day are available here.

The “call to action” here is for all of us to learn, unlearn and challenge ourselves, our attitudes and behaviour. More on how you can be involved here

Happy International Albinism Awareness Day

I am not Your Inspiration, Thank you Very Much!

by Stella Young (TED Talk)

”I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve been approached by strangers wanting to tell me that they think I’m brave or inspirational, and this was long before my work had any kind of public profile. They were just kind of congratulating me for managing to get up in the morning and remember my own name.  And it is objectifying. These images, those images objectify disabled people for the benefit of non disabled people. They are there so that you can look at them and think that things aren’t so bad for you, to put your worries into perspective”. Stella Young (April 2014).

You can watch the video here or by clicking on the picture below:

Stella Young is a comedian and journalist who happens to go about her day in a wheelchair — a fact that doesn’t, she’d like to make clear, automatically turn her into a noble inspiration to all humanity. In this very funny talk, Young breaks down society’s habit of turning disabled people into “inspiration porn.”

 This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxSydney (Australia), an independent event.

16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence

Greetings everyone.  This year’s 16 Days of Activism started on November 25th and will run until December 10th.  The theme this year is “Together we can end GBV in Education”.  For more about the campaign and to download the action toolkit, please click here

For information on UN Women activities, please click here

For background information about the 16 Days Campaign, please click here

As we celebrate 16 days of activism against GBV, did you know that Women and Girls with disabilities experience double discrimination, which places them at higher risk of gender-based violence, sexual abuse, neglect, maltreatment and exploitation. The global literacy rate in some places can be as low as one per cent for women with disabilities, according to a UNDP study. The World Bank reports that every minute more than 30 women are seriously injured or disabled during labour and that those 15-50 million women generally go unnoticed…

Please use the following hashtags to get involved with the campaign:

#SayNoToGBV

#IStandwithGirlsWithDisabilities

#16DaysOfActivismAgainstGBV2017

#YouHaveThePower2ChangeYourLife