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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Save the date: Opportunities in the Inclusion Space for September & beyond

Hello all,

Happy September! We love to not only share articles that touch on equality and social inclusion, but to also highlight opportunities (webinars, online courses, events etc) that you dare not miss and which touch on various aspects of inclusion.

1. The Healing Solidarity: Re-imagining International Development                     –online conference (September 17-23).

This will be a discussion on challenging and addressing complex issues and dilemmas in development practice. Can we ‘do’ development differently and what would this look like? Issues like racism, neo-colonialism, sexual harassment and inequity as they manifest in the sector will be raised, as well as  experiences in our organisations and our own practice. To register for the conference, go to this link

2. The Mental Health and Well Being of Development Workers: 

Workers are routinely exposed to traumatic events linked to the cause of mental health issues including depression, burnout and anxiety. Increasingly, work stress including extremely heavy workloads, long hours and limited time for self-care are being highlighted as major challenges. We share recordings of discussions on the importance of action on mental health care and the self care for all workers, and why we should speak more and take action on mental health care in our professional and social spaces.

  • Breaking the Silence: Promoting action on aid worker mental health by OCI available here
  • Humanitarian effectiveness and staff wellness by Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP) available here.

3. The Make Change Happen free online course which covers elements including understanding power dynamics, collaboration, opportunity and action that can tackle injustice and bring positive change.  Details on the course are available here.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/make-change-happen

4. Diversity Award by Bond: And last but not least, a call by Bond for organisations that are championing inclusion and equality by actively seeking to redress gender, race, sexuality, age and disability imbalances through employing and developing a diverse, inclusive workforce. These are organisations that are putting strategies and initiatives in place that champion diversity and equality, and hence promoting inclusive employment. If this is you or if you know of such an organisation , then submit the entry for the Diversity Award by 5pm on Friday 28 September 2018.

For more background on this issue, please read the powerful article “We must Celebrate Diversity in our Sector to drive Inclusion.”

 

A Tribute to Two Great Souls

In the last few days, the world has lost two great and visionary leaders, who both contributed enormously to world peace, equal rights and social inclusion in their different ways.  Embrace Everyone pays tribute to Aretha Franklin and Kofi Annan, and encourages everyone to be inspired by their great legacies.

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Aretha Franklin’s obituary in the Guardian can be read here and another one from BBC featuring some beautiful photos can be read here as well as a great piece describing the political and cultural impact of Respect, one of her greatest songs.  She was a strong feminist and played a big part in the Civil Rights movement.

Aretha’s songs are to be found everywhere and many of them are featured in another article by the Guardian, “from the church to the dancefloor.”  Many more can be found on you tube.  Aretha Franklin passed on August 16th 2018 at the age of 76.

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Ghana has declared a Week of National Mourning for one of its’ greatest sons, Kofi Annan.  He was the first Black African UN Secretary-General from 1997-2006 and a Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 2001.  Please read his obituary in the Daily Graphic here and the Guardian here

Kofi’s legacy will continue in many ways; through the great work of the Kofi Annan Foundation, through the work of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), where he was the founding chair, and through the work of The Elders, where he was Chair and an active member until his final days.  Kofi Annan passed on August 18th 2018 at the age of 80.

May their souls rest in perfect peace and may their powerful legacies continue to inspire us for many years to come.

 

Tackling Spit and Hatred

The title of this post is borrowed from a BBC news article marking the 25th Anniversary of the campaign (and, later, organisation) called ‘Kick it Out’ aimed at tackling racism and other forms of discrimination in football.  You can read the story here

The key driver of Kick it Out has been Lord Herman Ouseley who, at the time, headed Britain’s Commission for Racial Equality (CRE).  The CRE merged with two other commissions in 2007 to form the Equality and Human Rights Commission that is aimed at tackling all forms of Discrimination and promoting the 2010 Equality Act in UK.  You can read about the work of the Commission and watch a short video about their work here

To find out more about Kick it Out, please check their website here and please check out another innovative British organisation using football called Show Racism the Red Card

In Kenya, football has been a powerful catalyst in several areas for promoting Gender Equality and Peace amongst young people in their communities.  In Kilifi County, in the Coastal region, Moving the Goalposts (MTG) has been doing innovative work with young women and their communities for over 15 years.   Please read about one young woman’s moving experiences in life and with MTG in an article called “Who are Your Role Models?”

In Marsabit County, the largest county in Kenya in the North of the country, the Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) has been using football and sport to promote cohesion, girls & women’s rights and build peace since 2003.  You can see a series of their reports and short videos here and some of their inspiring Stories of Change are also here

Social Inclusion has at its heart the belief that, in order to create equitable societies then all forms of discrimination and oppression need to be tackled.  So, we applaud the efforts of MTG, HODI, Kick It Out and many others in their efforts to ensure that sport acts as a vehicle for positive social change and social inclusion.

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.