Global mental health conferences becoming routine?

One event would have been thrilling a few years ago. These days there is a risk of becoming blasé about so many opportunities.

But it is truly great. It shows changes in attitudes, funding and concepts. Listening to Psychology colleagues from Cuba and India at the global mental health conference in Leicester made sense and had more impact than it have done previously. Differences are exciting rather than alien, and similarities are rewarding. Let’s make the most of them!


‘Stand up for your rights’: Teenagers high-level definitions of resilience in Kenya

The difference in abstract conceptualization of resilience when we moved to the 15-17 year-olds in a second participatory workshop at a high school was evident. They had fun, debated, were specific, but also introduced a second level in their resilience strategies.

The above principle underpinned their responses to bullying in school. “Taking the risk” of telling parents openly of what they are doing was an interesting response to family conflict. My favourite, in response to distress? Writing down on a paper, then destroying it…i.e. exactly what mainly therapy manuals advise!

The WACIT girl is four!

When I first walked into that Kenyan village slum and a girl placed this baby on my lap, little would I know how our paths would grow and cross together.

R is coming along nicely with a caring mum, and there is now α teacher in the small nursery. Our next goal is to built a primary school, so that R will not need to walk for several kilometres every day.

WACIT Kenya: Building action plans in Nakuru

This was the grande premiere and it went so smoothly 25 interdisciplinary stakeholders brought experience, recommendations and creativity.

The WACIT framework gave structure, from mapping needs and resources, to a logic model that led to actions plans according to the six levels of the framework. These were integrated into one comprehensive action plan – shame for my drawing!

WACIT Kenya: How do children define resilience?

Can’t give too much away from John Maltby’s research, but wonderful to witness the process. The children decided how to run their participatory small groups themselves. One rotated the tasks, while the other two appointed a facilitator!

Their definitions of resilience attributes and strategies according to different scenarios were creative, assertive and not adult-dependent. Truly refreshing start to the project!

School mental health literacy is growing east, west and across

Meeting the Partnership for Children central and eastern European collaborators in Prague gave me a clear picture of the trends in school mental health and literacy.

As in other (e.g. humanitarian) contexts, mental health is making slow but steady strides. It often starts through motivated headteachers and stakeholders; but, once programmes are off the ground, teachers and children see their value, and rolling out across the school curriculum.

Why wait for the Leaders of tomorrow? They are Leading already!

It is so exciting to wait for the arrival of Dr Saima Ali from Karachi University in Pakistan later today,

on a prestigious Rutherford Commonwealth Scholarship programme for a year. It was an extremely competitive process across all academic fields, which speaks for our awardee’s pedigree. Our task in this year? To facilitate a leadership programme and research strategy for years to come.

But awards and scholarships are mere tips of the iceberg. I had experienced these qualities in real life at the Psychology Department in Karachi. This was a current, not future leader. The future leaders were the students in front of us in the photo. They were inquisitive, critical and funny. All more so, for being young women fighting their own battles. Unleashing their potential will be the REAL challenge of our programme. Which is even more exciting!