Peer Nation News

PEER NATION AT FIVE

PEER NATION AT FIVE

Peer Nation is a mental health service user led and managed organization initiated by participants from the seven-year Brain Gain Peer Support Work Programme, that was managed by the Butabika East London Link in Uganda, from 2011 to 2018. The organization was incorporated into legal status on 12th March 2019 as a charitable company limited by guarantee, making five years today. Our membership is comprised of seventy-two members who include mental health service users that have gone on to train as peer support workers, carers and some mental health professionals.

Our;

Vision: Creating a dignified society with mental health for all.

Mission: To attain sustainable mental health recovery by enhancing better living standards for all through knowledge gain, partnership, advocacy and independent living.

Goal: To provide psycho – social support to mental health survivors, those who care for them and their communities.

Shortly after our incorporation as Peer Nation, we submitted our Peer Support Work concept to Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) in 2019 and luckily enough we got the grant. It was our first grant titled ‘Institutional Strengthening and outreach peer support project’, which ran from January 2020 – July 2021.  With this funding we were able to do a lot of outreach peer support work with health centers in areas such as Kitetika, Nansana, Kitebi and Nkonkonjeru. This helped drive our mission of increasing mental health awareness.  With these funds we were also able to cover some of our overheads such as staff salaries and rent for our office premises. We also capitalised on procuring office furniture and equipment.  The highlight of this project was being able to register Peer Nation as a national indigenous non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Uganda with a five years’ operating permit on the 24th day of February 2021.

Shortly thereafter, we were honored to get a new grant from the UK Department of Health and Social Care (UK DHSC) managed by Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET).  This grant ran from July 2021 – August 2022.  With this grant we were able to carry out activities that included a training of trainers (TOT) for ten peer support workers.  Some of them, alongside our UK consultant, went on to train 20 clinical staff from health facilities in the project areas to serve as peer support worker supervisors.  The identified project areas included Arua and Mbarara Regional referral hospitals, as well as Nakivale and Yinga Imvepi refugee settlement areas.  Ten short films were also produced to complement the didactic peer support worker training.  Seventy-two (72) mental health service users in the project regions were trained to become peer support workers to carry out work in the aforementioned areas.  Additionally, we were able to translate our Mental Health Peer Support work training manual from English to five languages that include Arabic, Kiswahili, Kinyrwanda, Runyankole – Rukiga and Lugbara.  These training manuals, together with the Butabika Recovery Manual, are now hosted on our Peer Nation website (https://www.peernation.org/manuals/) ready for the general public to download at will and at zero cost.

Between October 2022 – September 2023 we were able to get another Institutional Strengthening Grant from OSIEA.  We utilized this by engaging in community mental health awareness raising through the Kampala Mental Health Film Club, whereby we showcased different films and documentaries every last Tuesday of the month at the National Theatre. We were however challenged with continuing the films due to the need to have them classified by Uganda Media Council as a requirement from Uganda Communication Commission (UCC).  By the time this happened, in November 2023, we had showcased eleven (11) films.  Furthermore, with this grant we were able to further capitalise by procuring more office equipment and provide capacity building training for our members.  As a highlight for this particular project, Peer Nation was awarded charity status with income tax exemption certificate from the Uganda Revenue Authority, something that was long waited for.

The main challenge we are faced with is sustaining the funding to continue the work further.  Along the way we have lost some of our dear members who have gone to meet the lord namely: Rashid Male, Hamza Diambo, Isaac Dhatemwa, Doreen Byaruhanga and recently Grace Tebandeke.  May their souls rest in eternal peace and let perpetual light shine upon them.

As we move forward here are some of our forecasts for the next five years: We would like to have some form of physical presence in all the four regions of Uganda namely; Northern, Eastern, Central and Western region.  We would like to increase our membership significantly by having a national appeal and character. We thank all the funders that have moved with us along this journey, and the respective individual contributions from the various friends that have come to our aid.  We would still wish and love to move with you further afield. That said however, we would still need more funders to come on board to enable Peer Nation to take this work to the next level.  We hope and are looking forward to resuming our Mental Health Film Club at the National Theatre in Kampala, once all the necessary modalities are in place.  We thank all of you who have supported our film club in anyway and in particular we would like in a special way to thank those of you who spared time to come along and attend, making the evenings memorable by voicing your contributions at the discussions after the film screening.

With these few remarks, allow us to say happy anniversary to Peer Nation at 5!!

Peer Nation Secretariat.

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Events

KAMPALA MENTAL HEALTH FILM CLUB PRESENTS “PSYCHOSIS AND ME”

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PSYCHOSIS AND ME

British actor David Harewood had a psychotic breakdown and was sectioned in his 20s.

David traces his steps, meeting young people living with psychosis and the health professionals who treat them…

Film followed by discussion

FREE admission, All welcome

Tuesday 26th September 2023 at 6.30 pm

The Green Room, The National Theatre, Ugandan National Cultural Centre

Contacts: 07027 77641 or 0773063473

A collaboration between

Peer Nation, Film Club Uganda, Uganda National Cultural Centre and the Butabika- East London Link

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Events

KAMPALA MENTAL HEALTH FILM CLUB PRESENTS “ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES”

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

The story of Violet Markey and Theodore Finch, who meet and change each other’s lives forever.

As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they come together, discovering that even the smallest places and moments can mean something…

Certificate 15: Sex and Nudity, Violence, Profanity, Alcohol and Drugs, Distressinbg Scenes

Film followed by discussion

FREE admission, All welcome

Tuesday 29th August 2023 at 6.30 pm

The Green Room, The National Theatre, Ugandan National Cultural Centre

Contacts: 07027 77641 or 0773063473

A collaboration between

Peer Nation, Film Club Uganda, Uganda National Cultural Centre and the Butabika- East London Link

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KAMPALA MENTAL HEALTH FILM CLUB PRESENTS… ‘HEAL’

HEAL

A documentary film that takes us on a scientific and spiritual journey where we discover that by changing our perceptions, the human body can heal itself…

(No certification)

Film followed by discussion

FREE admission, All welcome

Tuesday 30th May 2023 at 6.30 pm

The Green Room, The National Theatre, Ugandan National Cultural Centre

Contacts: 07027 77641 or 0773063473

A collaboration between

Peer Nation, Film Club Uganda, Uganda National Cultural Centre and the Butabika- East London Link

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KAMPALA MENTAL HEALTH FILM CLUB PRESENTS ‘THE GAMBLER’

THE GAMBLER

Axel Freed is a literature professor. He has the gambling vice.

When he has lost all of his money, he borrows from his girlfriend, then his mother, and finally some bad guys that chase him.

Despite all of this, he cannot stop gambling…

(Certification 18: Mild profanity, mild sex, mild violence and gore, mild alcohol and drug use, some frightening and intense scenes)

Film followed by discussion

FREE admission, All welcome

Tuesday 2nd May 2023 at 6.30 pm

The Green Room, The National Theatre, Ugandan National Cultural Centre

Contacts: 07027 77641 or 0773063473

A collaboration between

Peer Nation, Film Club Uganda, Uganda National Cultural Centre and the Butabika- East London Link

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Peer Support Workers -We are always interested in hearing from people who want to support othersPeer Nation News

Become a Peer Support Worker: We are always interested in hearing from people who want to support others

The role of Peer Support Worker

Peer Support Workers are key to the work we do. They are trained to support their peers in working towards their recovery. It can be a hard job but one which is very rewarding and can help in supporting your own mental health. PSWs will: –

  • Share their own experiences which may be difficult at times
  • Work with peers to develop goals and plans for the future
  • Develop relationships with the peer and their family and wider community so that support networks can be developed to aid recovery

Together for Mental Health

ONGOING NATIONWIDE

Peer Nation is here to help. With your support, we can continue fighting for higher-quality, culturally competent care for people living with mental health conditions.

Peer Nation is needs you! Please join us in any of these roles to help others; become our mental health service user, career, mental health professional; you are are welcome

Peer Support Work (PSW) Training Manuals in English with translated versions in Kinyarwanda, Juba Arabic, Lugbara, Runyankore-Rukiga, Swahili

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Events

Exciting News!

Peer Nation is starting a new Peer Support Project in health centres around Kampala, funded by OSIEA. We are very excited and looking forward to starting this project. Watch this space!

We are also pleased to announce that Kampala Mental Health Film Club will be resumed at the National Theatre soon. Look out for the first date, we hope to see you there.

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JOINT POSITION STATEMENT - EQUALITY & EQUITY IN COVID19 RESPONSEEvents

JOINT POSITION STATEMENT: EQUALITY & EQUITY IN COVID19 RESPONSE

Global Mental Health Peer Network & Human Rights in Mental Health FGIP

COVID-19, the newly identified type of illness caused by coronavirus, declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 and following an assessment, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on 11 March 2020, by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Since COVID-19 emerged in China and vigorously started spreading throughout the world, the internet and media has since been flooded with articles and stories related to COVID-19. The information that has been put out there, range from factual and statistical findings, future predictions of impact, recommended preventative measures to be taken to “flatten the curve”, how countries are responding (or not), conspiracy theories and speculations as to where and how COVID-19 originated from, and alarming reports of people in care homes and residential facilities being neglected and excluded from the response actions to protect human life from the potentially deadly virus.

Generally, people’s mental health are (and will be) affected by this “invisible predator” that is ravaging throughout the world and forced human life onto an unimaginable journey. The impact on mental health and wellbeing of nations raise serious concerns as people globally are forced to make radical changes in how we interact with each other and how we conduct our daily lives, with compounded concerns of financial security resulting from the decline of the global economy. Change by any means is a stress factor in any person’s life and stress in itself poses a risk for relapse or deterioration in mental health for those living with existing mental health conditions. The change that we are witnessing now poses a high risk for mental health problems that will continue to impact on people’s lives, not only those with existing mental health conditions but the broader public, even after COVID-19 has been defeated. Right now is the time, apart from curbing and eliminating the spread and health impact of COVID-19, but to strengthen the mental health system in preparation to deal with increased mental health problems and respond to the mental health needs of nations.

Peer support in times of crisis is of particular value. The lived experience between a peer support worker and the person using peer support services promotes connectedness and inspires hope. Peer support offers a level of acceptance, understanding, and validation not found in other professional services. Despite the evidence of the value of peer support work, many countries do not yet recognise this untapped expert human resource, especially in low-and-middle income countries. Right now and post-COVID, peer support workers can make an enormous impact in helping to address the mental health needs of people.

Countries all over the world have instituted restrictive measures in response to COVID-19 by placing communities into lockdown, and promote physical distancing to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. It is important to note the importance of the use of terminology and veer away from the term social distancing. The repercussions of lockdown measures have showed severe impact on both economies and communities. The world has already seen an increase in unemployment, domestic violence, suicide rates, racism, an increase in people experiencing mental health problems, and of course how people with mental health conditions, especially in care home or residential facilities are severely affected (neglected) and sadly risk dying – all directly related to the COVID-19 crisis.

Vulnerable groups, such as persons with lived experience with mental health conditions are increasingly vulnerable and more so for those with comorbid conditions. Not only are they easy targets of COVID-19 infection (because of somatic comorbidity and living in circumstances where physical distancing is impossible), but are now more than ever exposed to human rights violations resulting from inadequate response actions to protect and respect their lives and address the unique set of needs and challenges of this marginalised lived experience community in an emergency situation, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Article 11 of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities clearly acknowledge persons with disabilities (including psychosocial disabilities) in emergency situations: “… ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.”

The Global Mental Health Peer Network as an international organisation for people with lived experience with mental health conditions and Human Rights in Mental Health FGIP an international organisation that promotes humane, ethical and user-oriented mental health services, cannot emphasise enough that it is of critical importance to involve persons with lived experience in the development of emergency response strategies from the onset, and assess the needs and challenges of the lived experience community within specific community and country contexts, and respond accordingly with specific attention to ensure that the human rights of persons with mental health conditions are at all times upheld. Persons with lived experience with mental health conditions must be authentically involved, not only in the development of the response strategy, but further in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation thereof, and also in awareness and protection campaigns.

Equality and equity must be embedded throughout the response process and execution. Accurate information on infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans and services available, as well as protective resources must be accessible to all on an equal basis. Misinformation and myths in the public domain must be replaced with reliable information, particularly considering the unnecessary anxiety caused by false information from unreliable sources.

People with lived experience with mental health conditions may particularly be susceptible to stress and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 crisis which could pose a serious risk of deterioration of existing mental health conditions, and therefore must have readily available treatment options (as and how they define their needs), access to adequate and responsive support services and programs, including peer-to-peer support or peer support groups, and suicide prevention programs.

A large number of people with mental health conditions who are living in care homes or residential facilities, including psychiatric hospitals are often the forgotten and abandoned of society. Sadly, stories have emerged in the media where residents or patients of such institutions have been neglected and excluded from COVID-19 response strategies. This is unacceptable.

Lockdown and restrictive measures implemented by countries where physical distancing is promoted, many care homes, residential facilities and hospitals prohibits visitations, and this particularly affect residents or patients in these institutions. Although social connectedness has been encouraged by WHO and experts in mental health, during this time of physical distancing, residents or patients are isolated from the outside world and may experience compounded feelings of loneliness and distress. Government departments must take it upon themselves to support these institutions (where required) to ensure that access to alternative forms of communication (telephone and online communications technologies) are available to residents or patients to maintain connection with their relatives, friends or peers from the outside on a regular basis.

Dire shortages of protective gear (face masks, surgical gloves, sanitizers) within the health system and more so in social care homes and residential facilities, have made headline news. The “forgotten and abandoned” in care homes and residential facilities have been at the end of the line to obtain these essential protective gear – where those working in these institutions have been placed in a near to impossible situation, expected to control a potential outbreak and protect themselves and those they care for from COVID-19 in these institutions. Human rights places an emphasis on equality and inclusivity – at no point may any specialized or other facility that cares for persons with mental health conditions be left behind or discarded as second class citizens.

We salute the health workers who risk their own lives and their own mental health, working tirelessly to protect the world against this potentially deadly disease. We also acknowledge those who are in particular placing focus on ensuring that vulnerable groups, such as people with mental health conditions, are protected and not left behind.

A particular extension of gratitude to WHO and in specific Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is tirelessly working to try and protect the world from this deadly virus and ensure that its impact is minimized as far as possible.

www.gmhpn.org Founder/CEO: Ms Charlene Sunkel globalmentalhealthpeernetwork@gmail.com
www.gip-global.org CEO: Prof Robert Van Voren rvvoren@gip-global.org

 

Partners in support of the statement

Jakub Bil (CEO: Inclusive Habitat Project)Jaclyn Schess (CEO/ Founder: Generation Mental Health)Matthew Jackman (Global Lived Experience Ambassador: Generation Mental Health)Laura Smith (Australian Representative: GMHPN Executive Committee)Iregi Mwenja (CEO: PDO Kenya)Celline Cole (Global Mental Health Academic and Advocate)Enoch Li (Managing Director: Bearapy)Eleni Misganaw (Global Mental Health Advocate/ President: Mental Service Users’ Association Ethiopia)Katrina Anna McIntosh (Executive Manager/ Mental Health Specialist/ Author)Hannah Stewart (Doctoral Student: UTHealth Science Center, Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Science)Chantelle Booysen (Global Mental Health Advocate + Social Impact Entrepreneur: SADAG KwaZulu-Natal, Global Mental Health Peer Network, Young Leaders for Global Mental Health)Abanga Marie Angele (Founder and CEO: Hope for the Abused and Battered)Japheth Obare (Chairperson of Schizophrenia Society of Kenya, Mental Health Advocate, Missionary: Schizophrenia Society of Kenya, Oasis of Mercy)Lucy Goldsmith (Postdoctoral Research Fellow and member of Executive Committee: GMHPN/ St George’s, University of London)Karen Athié (Global Mental Health Advocate/ Primary mental health care researcher/ Psychossocial Support and Vulnerable Population Director/Superintendent: Health Secretariat in Rio de Janeiro State/Brazil)Swetha Bindu Jammalamadugu (Global Mental Health Peer Network advocate/ MMED Psychiatry candidate at University of Botswana: GMHPN/ University of Botswana)Joseph Atukunda (Executive GMHPN Uganda/ President Heartsounds Uganda)Edward Nkurunungi (Executive Director: Peer Nation)Jonathan Douglas (Psychologist: Central Ontario Psychology/ Board of Directors: Badge of Life Canada)Christine Newman (LGBTQ2S Peer Support Advisor/Lived Experience Facilitator, Mood Disorders Society of Canada, Peer and Trauma Support Systems)  

To add your name/ organisation as a signatory in support of the statement, please email your details to: globalmentalhealthpeernetwork@gmail.com

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Events

New years greetings 2021

Hello there, we are excited to enter this new year 2021 with you our Peers, Partners, friends and well wishers. Let’s keep up the spirit of reaching out to communities in need of mental health recovery peer support. Spread the love and kindness, and with optimism and self sacrifice, no hurdles can be so hard to transcend. Here at Peer Nation, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year.

From Mugerwa Muzamil

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Mental Health Improvement services through Advocacy and Policy ChangePeer Nation News

Institutional Strengthening and outreach peer support project progress amidst COVID-19

The Institutional strengthening and outreach peer support project resumed following the easing of COVID-19 lock down. The second mutual support meeting happened on 28th/July/2020 on Tuesday at Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital grounds. The peer support workers and nurse in-charges shared their successes, challenges and way forward. The above project is sponsored by Open society Initiative of East Africa in Conjunction with Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital.

It has come to our attention that people with mental health challenges are the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic because of their condition. Therefore we urge all peer support workers and project beneficiaries to be resilient and adaptive using the information provided by all stake holders in fight of the pandemic. This necessitates us to be more resilient, adaptive and innovative so as to realise the Peer Nation vision of ‘A dignified society through mental health for All’ amidst COVID-19.

Muzamil (PR)

Published 3rd August 2020

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