Mental health

Peer support group from CBM partner the Mental Health Users and Carers Association (MeHUCA) in Malawi.

Our impact last year

  • 27k people received support or treatment for mental health conditions
  • 2.5k mental health professionals provided support during the pandemic
  • 129k people received helpline support during the pandemic

Mental health conditions are the world’s leading cause of disability, affecting over 450 million people at any time. 80% of people with mental illness live in low or middle-income countries, where most have little or no access to treatment or support and many face extreme poverty, stigma, discrimination and abuse.  

Too often, people living in poverty with mental illness are seen as broken, cursed, somehow less than human. Misunderstanding, stigma and exclusion, combined with a lack of support and treatment, pulls whole families deeper into poverty.

How we help

CBM is the world’s leading organisation tackling mental health and disability across developing countries. For over 15 years, CBM has been working to improve the lives of people with mental health conditions in the worlds' poorest places.  The merger of mental health NGO BasicNeeds with CBM UK in 2017 further increased our technical expertise and capacity.

Working in partnership with communities, health authorities and people with lived experience of mental health conditions, we improve access to mental health support and tackle the exclusion faced by people with psychosocial disabilities (disabilities caused by mental health conditions).

Our life-changing community mental health work includes:

  • providing vital support to people experiencing mental health conditions and their families, for example through setting up peer-support groups;
  • improving access to community-based treatment by training health and community workers to identify and understand mental health conditions;
  • supporting people with psychosocial disabilities (those caused by mental health conditions) and their families to earn a living, for example through vocational training and support to set up small businesses;
  • tackling stigma and discrimination, including by training and supporting people with lived experience of mental health conditions to share their stories and promote understanding in their communities;
  • improving access to counselling and psychological support at times of  humanitarian crisis;
  • using our expertise and understanding to train and support other organisations to address mental health and include people with psychosocial disabilities in development and humanitarian work - for example through the CBM Global Community Mental Health Good Practice Guides

Read more about our mental health approach and priorities:

In action

Group of people holding posters campaigning for the rights of people with mental health in Nigeria.

Bridging the Gaps: Strengthening mental health support for young people in Nigeria

Together with our partner Mentally Aware Nigeria (MANI), we’re working to strengthen mental health support available…

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Group of people sit together on the floor. One man is living with Lymphatic filariasis.

Improving mental health support for people with Neglected Tropical Diseases

Our research project, in partnership with The Leprosy Mission Nigeria and University of Jos, will improve support for…

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Group of people talking. Back of Tshirt reads Mental Illness, Everyone's Business, Stop the Stigma.

Improving support for people with mental health problems and their families in Malawi

People with mental health conditions in Malawi often face stigma, prejudice and abuse. They struggle to access…

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Esterei (pictured left) is a member of CBM's partner Mental Health Users and Carers Association (MEHUCA) local committee, in Malawi. She is a carer for her son, Paul (pictured right), who has a mental health condition.

Mental health in sub-Saharan Africa: researching effective approaches in partnership with people affected by mental illness

People with psychosis and their families are among the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in society…

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Outdoor safe space at CBM's partner Kenyatta University in Kenya

Mental health support for students in Kenya

Research in Kenyan government universities has identified high levels of depression and anxiety among students…

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Community health workers attending mental health training in Bungoma County, Kenya. ©BasicNeedsBasicRightsKenya

Providing mental health support in Kenya during COVID-19

COVID-19 restrictions have had a devastating effect on many people’s mental well-being in Kenya…

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Transforming lives

Bimala sitting in her garden smiling


“I tell everyone who I think is suffering in silence to come forward and seek support and treatment”

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Kamal in makeshift tent at Cox's Bazaar refugee camp in Bangladesh


“I will never forget the smell of the fires, the screams, these horrible screams. I see these sequences again and again…”

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“If you are in a group they teach you not just to sit at home, they teach you how to cope with treatment and do work”

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Robert, a man in his 30s, sits with his aunt Rose under a tree

Rose and Robert

“I now know how to protect and take care for people with mental illness. I am also able to tell signs and symptoms of mental illness… Above all, I have learnt to love him.”

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Two men in Uganda, sat on the floor, talking about mental health issues.
17th Jan 2022

Training media in Uganda to report responsibly on mental health

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Five members of the Zimbabwe SUCCEED project team (2 women and 3 men) holding a banner saying National Association of Persons with Psychosocial disabilities "nothing about us without us"
6th Apr 2022

“A revolution of people fighting for their livelihood, rights and dignity” – Formation of the National Association for people with psychosocial disabilities in Zimbabwe

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