In Senegal and Zimbabwe, local initiatives are rising, breaking taboos about mental health and creating possibilities for earlier detection and better treatment in the economic, social and cultural context.

  • €16,145 Budget in Euros
  • 2018 Final release date
  • 1 Round winner
  • 2 Locations
  • 3 Durations in months

Only half of the 300 million people suffering from depression worldwide benefit from treatment, in some developing countries the number only reaches 10%. In Senegal and Zimbabwe, local initiatives are emerging which are better suited for the detection and which offer treatments better adapted to the economic, social and cultural context.

This is an approach to mental health radically different from conventional psychiatry: without or with very limited medication, they offer therapy through listening and speaking. While the Senegalese method introduced by psychiatrist Henri Collomb is being abandoned for economic and historical reasons, the Zimbabwean Friendship Benches project has helped tens of thousands of individuals. By offering free time for mutual exchange outside of the traditional hospital settings, based on a model of voluntary participatory listeners, including at times other patients, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda devised a system which might be applied anywhere.

By highlighting these two initiatives, we wanted to show that another way of managing mental health was possible to a French readership more used to drug treatments faced with a shortage of human and financial resources on the parts of hospitals. Talking about depression in a "proactive" way in mainstream media also provides an opportunity to lift the taboo on this illness.

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