Mental Health around the Globe in 2013

Interesting BBC World Service documentary on mental health featuring stories from around the globe. The Truth About Mental Health

Mad or Sad Duration:29 minutes First broadcast:Friday 31 May 2013

From time to time we all find ourselves in some kind of emotional turmoil. But when do everyday anxieties or unusual thoughts tip over into a mental health problem? And who decides what’s normal, and whether a treatment that works in one country will work elsewhere?
Last October in a village outside of Bangalore, Keshava was dramatically rescued from ten years of being bricked into a room, in his own home. As police knocked down the walls, the young man in his thirties emerged, dishevelled and naked. He’d been locked in a tiny room, without doors or daylight, and was fed through a window. Keshava had become increasingly unwell in his twenties. Unable to cope with his increasingly violent outbursts, or get him the help he needed, his family gradually walled him in.
Stories of mental illness like this are happening all around the world, and in this opening programme Claudia Hammond explores how mental illnesses are treated in different parts of the world. Do we all experience similar conditions and respond to the same treatments? Or are our beliefs about our minds so tightly bound to the culture in which we live, that local solutions provide the best chance of recovery? Claudia visits Cultural Psychiatrist, Dr Micol Ascoli, at Newham’s Centre for Mental Health, who believes that service users’ own cultural interpretations of mental illness are crucial to their recovery

Children and War Duration: 29 minutes First broadcast: Friday 07 June 2013

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.

Four Walls Duration: 29 minutes First broadcast: Friday 14 June 2013

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.

Healing Norway Duration: 29 minutes First broadcast: Friday 21 June 2013

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.

Treatment Gap Duration: 29 minutes First broadcast: Friday 28 June 2013

If you have a mental health problem, where you live in the world makes a big difference to the care you 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 50%.
Claudia Hammond investigates some of the alternatives that occupy this ‘treatment gap’.
Psychiatrist Dr Monique Mutheru is one of just 25 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. It provides training for 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 do not 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.

Hikikomori Duration:29 minutes First broadcast: Friday 05 July 2013

In Japan hundreds of thousands of young people withdraw from society for years or even decades. They are known as hikikomori and Claudia Hammond travels to Tokyo to discover more about this mysterious condition and why it is so prevalent in Japan.

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