Introduction: Joseph Atukunda, Uganda (2) Mental health

28 April, 2019

Dear Joseph,

"I'm Joseph Atukunda diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in 1998. Here is my story by BBC and you can watch and ask questions. I'm trying to do mental health awareness raising through this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5d8bhMf8xY&t=565s "

Wow! This BBC documentary is inspirational, Joseph, thank you so much. I urge everyone to watch it.

In this documentary we learn about Joseph's experience with mental illness in Uganda and treatments received from a traditional healer, from a religious leader, and from modern medicine. We hear from the commentary: 'What's really made a difference is the leap he took into the unknown. He changed his attitude to his own mental condition by talking openly about it, and he says it's turned his life around'.

Joseph, I too am affected by mental illness: recurrent depression. Thankfully I have not had a serious episode for the past 10 years, which I attribute to modern medicine (in particular, antidepressants and mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy (MCBT)). I note that Joseph's signature says "Live in mindfulness" and I relate strongly to this.

I look forward to working with Joseph and others to address the information needs of the public, healthcare providers and policymakers, including how to address stigma. As Joseph has shown, we need to talk openly about it. Indeed, I am currently in discussion with HIFA mental health professionals about the possibility of launching a new HIFA project on mental health and, Joseph, I hope you can join us.

Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org