Affordable Mental Health in Kenya

Frugal Innovations with Global Implications


To kick off a four-part podcast series on frugal health care innovations with global implications, producer Sandy Hausman takes listeners to Kenya to learn about a program called Basic Needs, which provides affordable mental health care in developing countries in Africa and Asia. Program leaders have now begun a partnership with a nonprofit in Detroit, Michigan.

Basic Needs trains community volunteers and others to recognize behaviors that may signal mental illness. The team arranges for medical treatment when needed and creates support groups, which help people find work and participate more fully in society.

Listen to learn more.

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BasicNeeds Participates in #SEChallenge to Raise Funds for Children in Sri Lanka

As recipients of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, BasicNeeds is taking part in the Skoll Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. The challenge is designed for Skoll awardees to fundraise for their most pressing projects. BasicNeeds’ focus for the challenge is on children living in the Batticaloa region of Sri Lanka. Many of the children face family breakdown, alcohol and drug misuse, domestic violence and abandonment stemming from devastating, long-term effects of the long civil war and the 2004 tsunami.

BasicNeeds and our partners in Sri Lanka have established Children’s Clubs to provide children with ways of coping with these issues. The Clubs help them to manage mental distress and perform well in school. Participation improves their lives by providing a space where they can relax, play, make friends and learn new skills. The project, also works with teachers, parents and government education officials, equipping them to recognize and deal with mental health problems in a child-friendly way at school and at home. Read more.

Please Help us meet the challenge – donate here.

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Implementing the BasicNeeds Model in the U.S.

BasicNeeds is excited to share our plans to implement the BasicNeeds Model to address mental health and community development needs in the U.S. In partnership with Innovations and Healthcare at Duke University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, BasicNeeds recently completed a feasibility and implementation planning study. The study has laid a solid foundation for U.S. implementation – one that not only demonstrates a clear need, but also embodies an articulate and realistic plan, strong partnerships, and highly qualified and committed leaders. BasicNeeds’ Implementation Plan features development of a network of partner organizations with the capacity and comitment to deliver the BasicNeeds Model at the community level. As a first step to developing the network, BasicNeeds is piloting implementation in two very different settings – Southwest Detroit, Michigan and tribal communities in New Mexico. Read more.

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PBS NewsHour: ‘A Curse from God’ – The Stigma of Mental Illness in Pakistan

Up to 40 percent of the people in Pakistan could have mental health issues, yet getting help isn’t easy. The stigma against mental illness is prevalent, and even for those who do want to get help, psychiatrists are in short supply. As part of the PBS NewsHour “Agents For Change” series, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro looks at the efforts being made by BasicNeeds to change this situation.

Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Karachi, click here to watch the video clip.

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Nepal Earthquake: Medicines, Basic Supplies and Psychosocial Support Urgently Needed

Following the devastating earthquake in Nepal on April 25th, BasicNeeds has launched an appeal, responding with emergency supplies and psychosocial support via our local partner Livelihoods and Education Development Society (LEADS) Nepal. LEADS works in Myagdi and Baglung areas, very close to the epicenter of the earthquake.

Our partner staff in the villages there report 540 people injured and 2,900 houses damaged, with people living outside of their homes in cold temperatures. “People are scared to go inside their houses, we have experienced over 100 aftershocks over the last two days. We have still not been able to contact families in the most remote villages,” says Padam Raj Shrestha of LEADS Nepal.

Food supplies and medicines, including those for long-term mental health conditions, are very rapidly running down with the possibility of patients becoming very ill with little chance of being able to regain and maintain their mental stability.

We envision several stages of our support for people with mental illness and their families affected by the earthquake:

  • Enabling LEADS to procure urgently needed supplies of food, water, pharmaceutical drugs and blankets to support mentally ill people, their care givers and other family members.
  • Training local Community Health Volunteers to provide post-trauma support for our families and their communities.
  • Building local capacity to sustain the delivery of mental health and development services in the transition from rehabilitation to development.

Please support our partner in Nepal by clicking on “Donate Now” to make a tax deductible credit card donation, or donate to our JustGiving campaign established for specifically for this appeal.

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Chris Underhill Receives the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2013

Chris Underhill, Founder Director of BasicNeeds received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2013 at the Skoll World Forum held on the 11th of April, following the announcement of his award last December.

The Skoll Award marks Chris’ significant contribution to the field of global mental health through BasicNeeds, an international development organization that he founded in 1999. BasicNeeds works with mentally ill people through the holistic Model for Mental Health and Development to address community mental health, poverty and stigma. BasicNeeds has cumulatively reached 558,272 beneficiaries, including mentally ill persons, their carers and family members, in 12 countries.

Each year the Skoll World Forum brings together the world’s leading social entrepreneurs highlighting best practices, new innovations as well as uniting leaders in a collaborative pursuit to advance large-scale social change.

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2013 Skoll Awards Video: World Health Partners and BasicNeeds

Watch the video to learn more about Skoll Award recipients: BasicNeeds and World Health Partners.


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BasicNeeds’ Founder, Chris Underhill accepts Skoll Award

Chris Underhill was among the six entrepreneurs to be awarded the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2013 during the Skoll World Forum at Oxford.

In his acceptance speech, Chris shared a powerful experience of visiting Africa with his wife as twenty-one year old volunteers and seeing a group of mentally ill people in a cage being poked with sticks by children. This image of the cage and the cruelty has remained with him and motivates his work for social change.

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GlobalGiving Challenge – Enable 100 Children with Epilepsy to Attend School in Ghana

BasicNeeds Ghana was recently selected by the GlobalGiving Foundation to be a permanent member! Thank you to all the donors who helped us meet the GlobalGiving Open Challenge. Our membership gives us access to new corporate relationships, expanded donor networks, and fundraising tools. Our current GlobalGiving project enables Ghanaian children with epilepsy to receive appropriate medical care, gain social acceptance, and attend school in a supportive environment. Please help us raise an additional $15,000 to support this vital work. Learn More

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Ghana – A Picture of Mental Health

The hidden realities of the experiences and living conditions of people with mental disorders and epilepsy in Ghana are poignantly exposed in BasicNeeds’ recently released photographic essay entitled, Ghana – A Picture of Mental Health. The essay illustrates the living conditions of people with mental illness and epilepsy in Ghana. Its purpose is to raise awareness and influence change in attitudes, policies and practices that affect this vulnerable population.
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