Truth About Mental Health, The [world Service]


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Meet Keshava, confined for ten years by his family who couldn't get him the help he needed

Last October Keshava was rescued from ten years of solitary confinement in his village outside Bangalore. As police knocked down the walls, the young man emerged, naked, his neck distorted from the weight of his matted hair. He’d been living in a tiny room without doors or daylight. Keshava had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early twenties but, unable to get him the help he needed or cope with his violent outbursts, his family gradually walled him in.

Claudia Hammond asks how mental illnesses are defined in different countries. She visits Cultural Psychiatrist Micol Ascoli at Newham’s Centre for Mental Health in the UK to find out how cultural differences can be taken into account.

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Protecting young minds – the impact of war and conflict on children

It's a common misconception that children, unlike adults, are so resilient that they can bounce back from the emotional and psychological impact of war and conflict. The evidence contradicts this and world experts in the field warn that, while some children do recover fully from exposure to the horrors of war, others experience long-term mental health problems.

As the war and fighting in Syria continues to claim more lives and destroy many others, Claudia Hammond reports from Jordan on how this latest conflict is exposing yet another generation to the traumatic impact of violence, killing and loss. She investigates what actually helps to alleviate the suffering of these children and prevent a life-time of recurring emotional distress.

From the Al Zatari refugee camp in the north of Jordan she hears about the scale of the challenge facing international organisations like Save the Children. And she meets a group of Syrian mental health professionals from the Arab Foundation for Care of Victims of War and Torture who, as refugees themselves, are running a mass outreach programme, developed by some of the world's leaders in child trauma at the Children and War Foundation, to teach as many Syrian children as possible, psychological techniques and coping strategies.

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Psychologists and political prisoners reveal how to stay sane in solitary confinement

Solitary confinement is a form of torture that undermines identity and mental health. In “The Truth About Mental Health - Four Walls” Claudia Hammond talks to ex political prisoners about their experiences and how they dealt with living in such inhumane conditions. Advice too from Professor Craig Heaney who works with prisoners in Supermax prisons in the United States of America and psychiatrist Professor David Alexander who has worked with many hostages.

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July 22, 2011 has been described as the day Norway cried. After detonating a car bomb in Oslo, killing eight and injuring many more, Anders Breivik took a ferry to the island of Utoya. There, dressed as a policeman, he began a murderous spree, hunting down and indiscriminately shooting young people on the island who were attending a youth camp. Seventy seven people were killed in total, many of them teenagers, and hundreds injured.

This was the worst mass murder in Norwegian post-war history and the whole country was in shock. But Norway used this national tragedy to pioneer new ways of caring for their citizens. Claudia Hammond reports on the ground-breaking new ways Norway has been road testing to deliver psychological and mental health support to those who survived, and to those who lost relatives and friends.

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The projects helping to bridge the gap in mental health treatment around the world

Projects helping to bridge the gap in services for people with mental health problems.

If you have a mental health problem, where you live in the world makes a big difference to the care you’ll receive. In many lower and middle income countries, three quarters of people with mental health problems don’t have access to mainstream mental health services. Even in wealthier, developed countries, the figure is close to fifty percent.

In this programme, Claudia Hammond investigates some of the alternatives that occupy this ‘ treatment gap’.

Psychiatrist Dr Monique Mutheru is one of just twenty five psychiatrists in Kenya. In the absence of services to meet the mental health needs of Kenyans, traditional healers and witchdoctors play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating them. Claudia examines a programme which brings health workers and traditional healers together, training traditional healers to refer their severely ill patients to the clinic and avoid harmful practices that some healers carry out, such as lobotomy and bloodletting.

Even in developed countries, like the United Kingdom, where mental health services are freely available, some people with mental health problems feel that the treatments available don’t help. The Hearing Voices Network provides support to ‘voice hearers’, through support groups, helping them to manage and engage with the voices that trouble them.

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Claudia Hammond explores the different attitudes and definitions of mental health and m...

Claudia Hammond explores the different attitudes and definitions of mental health and mental wellbeing around the world.