Mental health shouldn’t be considered a luxury reserved for people living in the richest and most stable countries. Genocide and conflict have left shattered communities in their wake across the world, yet the needs of traumatised people are often overlooked because the wealthy world assumes that people in conflict zones have other priorities. Less than 1% of aid is spent on mental health, and when the disaster relief agencies move on to the next emergency, families and communities struggle to make sense of what has happened to them.
It is unrealistic expecting people to plan for the future while they are haunted by the atrocities they have witnessed, or the horror they endured. No one can benefit from training programs while they have regular flashbacks to the worst moments of their lives. It is hardly surprising that more than 80% of people suffering with mental health problems live in low and middle-income societies. Poor people are likely to remain poor so long as they struggle with mental illness. Problems such as domestic violence, alcoholism, suicide and poor parenting are part of a vicious cycle linked to mental health issues. For these reasons, Network for Africa aims to train people and communities to manage their post-traumatic stress, removing the psychological blocks that prevent them from getting on with life when the conflict ends.