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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About Peer Nation - creating a dignified society with mental health for allEvents

Welcome to our new website

We’re working to bring you a whole new way to find out about our upcoming events, look back on recent seminars and training sessions, or find out about the latest developments at Peer Nation.

Clearly things are looking pretty good so far but please do bear with us while we add in our news and events over the coming weeks. In the meantime – feel free to take a look around!

Published 16th July 2019

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Inspiring Mental Health Recovery StoriesPeer Nation News

Monthly profile of An inspirational Peer – Teddy’s story

Teddy’s story

Looking back, Teddy believes her illness started when she was young. After a case of cerebral malaria, she was taken to medical hospitals, received treatment and seemed to improve. Neither her nor her guardians knew anything about mental illness.

However, when she was in her second year at University, she went to the village for family annual meetings. There she found that all her family were against her, they said she was going astray and criticised her behaviour. As a punishment, all of her hair was cut off. She returned to Kampala feeling so bad, she stayed in bed all day and wouldn’t eat. She cried and felt like she wanted to kill herself. She was supposed to be doing examinations, but she was weak and couldn’t read. She was going to miss them.

Teddy lived with her Auntie in Kampala, who took her to the University clinic. They recognised a mental health challenge and referred her to Butabika Hospital. At Butabika, a psychiatrist asked Teddy about her life story and diagnosed her with Bipolar disorder. She was experiencing a depressive episode and needed treatment.

The psychiatrist also explained to Teddy and her Auntie that Bipolar disorder may run in the family. It can be generational. However, Teddy’s aunt took this badly. She felt criticised and blamed, as if the problem was coming from home. Looking back, Teddy thinks this was a big misunderstanding. Unfortunately, it had repercussions later.

Teddy was admitted to Butabika that day. It was so unsettling to be in a new environment, but she recalls her cousin brother who visited every day, bringing food and new clothes. She says, “he was my consolation”. She stayed in hospital for a month, missing her University examinations. She was prescribed ECT treatment. This is where you are put to sleep and an electrical current is passed through your head to induce a seizure. It is a treatment for severe depression, which can be of benefit to some people. Teddy remembers being put on a bed, and a nurse saying, “Is it ready?”. She didn’t feel anything and hasn’t experienced any side effects. She was told it helps you to get new thoughts.

After a month she was discharged with medication, which she took daily. She was able to return to University and complete her course. However, in the run up to her Uncle’s wedding, which was to be a large event for the whole family, Teddy became overly excited. She was not sleeping and was talking a lot. It was abnormal and increasing on a daily basis. She was brought back to Butabika and admitted with a manic relapse.

After things settled down, she was discharged again. As she was taking lithium, she needed to go for regular blood checks. Everything was becoming expensive, and her Auntie was fed up. It didn’t help that she had felt criticised by the doctor at Butabika – thinking “the problem is at home” – although perhaps this was just a misunderstanding. Teddy was sent away. After living in the house from P5, she felt rejected.

She moved in with another Auntie who said, “you are not sick, you are making yourself sick, this medication is so expensive, it will disturb you, you will not produce”. Lacking family support, Teddy defaulted on her medication. Soon, she was readmitted to Butabika. She felt depressed and was suicidal. She did not feel loved.

At this stage in her life, Teddy decided to join a Missionary group. She was taken to Kenya. They did not know about her mental health challenges, and Teddy convinced herself she was not sick. She didn’t take medication and over the next three years the excitements and depressions would come. At times she would be taken to hospital. Nobody recognised the signs. After three years, her contract terminated, and she returned to Uganda. She felt depressed but did not want to go to Butabika – the stigma was too great to bear. Her brother found her in such a low state at her father’s house that he took her to Bosa Mental Health Unit at Mulago Hospital, crying, “what has happened to my sister?”

This time, on discharge from hospital, Teddy was referred to HeartSounds, a peer support organisation for mental health challenges in Uganda. When she went, she found lively people who were mental health users. Before, Teddy didn’t know anyone else experiencing mental health challenges. Now, she had peers to guide her and counsel her. It helped her so much. She was also chosen to receive training as a peer support worker. She became so active, “I used to say I’m useless, now I saw that I’m productive”. Since then, she has not suffered any more relapses.

Teddy now has a partner who accepts her and supports her, and two children. She is running a successful book making business and takes part in activities for Peer Nation, so she can use her lived experience to help others.

By sharing her story, Teddy has demonstrated that medication for mental health challenges does not affect fertility. She has two healthy children. Also, Teddy is able to provide for her family through her peer support work and business. Finally, she asks for family members and carers of people with mental health challenges to love and support them. Looking back on her first admission at Butabika, she says “if I hadn’t been supported by this cousin brother of mine, life would have been different”.

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West Uganda Mental Health Service Improvement Project (WUMH) - Peer NationPeer Nation News

West Uganda Mental Health Service Improvement Project (WUMH)

WUMH project where Peer Nation is participating in partnership with; Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), East London NHS foundation Trust, London, UK (ELFT), Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

The project enhances Mental Health in Uganda for refugee and host communities in west Nile Province and South Western Uganda. The project provides a pilot Peer Support Worker (PSW) approach for community level mental Health care in two main centers within the project zones (Arua and Mbarara).

The PSW refresher training of Trainer of trainers has been concluded. The trainers are to train peers in selected communities to support the formal health care workers to mitigate service provision gaps. The project seeks to to build sustainability through development of online training and peer supervision platform.

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