Last 14 and 15 December 2022 the conference “Bridging Gaps in Community Mental Healthcare: Towards a Shared Path for Mental Wellbeing in Sudan, Cameroon, Chad and Central African Republic”, organized by Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo and the Mental Health Department of Trieste #ASU GI, took place in a symbolic place such as the Teatrino Franca e Franco Basaglia, Parco Culturale di San Giovanni in Trieste.
The Conference gathered international practitioners from Sudan, Cameroon, Chad, and CAR who shared their contributions, from which it emerged that they all work towards the same goal: creating a functional, resilient, and highly reactive mental healthcare system. Great attention was paid to cross-cultural mental health conceptualizations and how to include them in local and international interventions and programmes. Michele Morana, head of AICS Cooperazione Khartoum con competenza per Eritrea-Camerun-RCA e Chad, stated “almost 50% of our budget is dedicated to interventions on the health sector, with a special attention to mental health”.
Ample space has been devoted to the stigmatization and social exclusion people with mental health conditions face, often preventing them from accessing treatment. The discussion continued on the relationship between modern and traditional medicine and the role traditional healers can play in early identification and intervention.
Representatives from the DSM Trieste have illustrated in detail the structure of the mental health department of Trieste, whose main characteristic is to put people first and whose services are firmly rooted in the community. “A delay in accessing appropriate care is one of the biggest challenges in the mental health sector“ has underlined Alessandra Oretti, Deputy Director of DAI DSM. The personalized rehabilitation and therapeutic project, a result of this person-centered approach, is a powerful tool to empower people with mental health problems, transmitting hope and optimism for the future.
The last day Dr. Alessandra Oretti concluded stating that “we had the opportunity to discuss different aspects, situations, and topics concerning mental health. These exchanges have confirmed the relevance of promoting an integrated multi-level approach, networking the different resources of individuals, families, and communities, but at the same time focusing on universal principles. This is the challenge today to address mental health issues in any part of the world, and even more so in countries facing such challenges with limited resources.”
"This conference represents an important starting point” reported Michele Morana, AICS Khartoum Director. “Interesting insights arose from the experiences of our international guests who presented the context of their own countries, difficulties, and potentials, showing their strong commitment and dedication. We listened to the stories of those struggling to de-stigmatise stereotypes and prejudices towards mental health, and of the emblematic experience of Trieste. I hope that this initial collaboration will pave the way for a joint work in collaboration with diverse actors from different backgrounds and countries for the launch of new initiatives in the field of mental health promoting the concept of Leave No One Behind” concluded the AICS Khartoum Director Michele Morana.
The conference has been the occasion to present the research "Assessment on access to primary mental health care in Kassala" aimed at analyzing the access to mental health services of the population in Kassala State.