IMHCN 2018


It’s been exactly a month we organized International Mental Health Conference Nepal (IMHCN) 2018 after several months of preparation and collaboration between representatives from different government and non-government organizations working in the area of mental health in Nepal.

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The lead organizer of the conference was Ministry of Health, Department of Health Services, Primary Health Care Revitalization Division. It took place in Park Village Resort, Kathmandu on 16 and 17 Feb, 2018. It was supported by 16 different organizations and academic institution composed of main organizing committee and seven sub-committees (Scientific, Communication & Media, Souvenir, Policy Discourse, Terminology Translation, Hospitality & Event Management and Finance & Logistics) dedicated to execute specific tasks related to the conference. I had an opportunity to be in the organizing committee and coordinator of Communication & Media Subcommittee. Other members of my committee were Suraj Shakya, Gopal Dhakal and Ritesh Khadka. I would like to thank them for their cooperation.

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This conference addressed the mental health and psychosocial themes by presenting scientific studies and programmatic innovations by bringing together mental health & psychosocial professionals, academics, service users and related stakeholders in the common platform. Keynote and invited speakers gave special presentations on key themes related to mental health and psychosocial well-being. Researchers from Nepal and various countries shared their findings and field experiences. Presentations and debates focused on promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation approaches that contribute to improving mental health and psychosocial well-being.

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Altogether 34 papers and 51 posters were presented/exhibited in the two-day conference. 6 keynote speakers and 4 invited speakers from Nepal and other countries highlighted the importance of mental health and psychosocial services and research. Over 350 participants attended the conference. Me along with four other ACF colleagues participated and we had one paper presentation by Karine Le Roch on FUSAM research and one poster exhibition related to one of the projects ACF implemented in Nuwakot and Rasuwa after the earthquakes.

The program book and presentations are now available in the website:

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Missing Migrants of Nepal


Thousands of families and relatives of the missing persons all over the world continue to wait for their loved ones who have disappeared in course of armed conflict, disasters, migration or other events. They continue to live in ambiguity due to lack of accurate information. The ambiguous loss is one of the most painful, difficult loss to deal with as it is unclear and without closure.

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Having worked with families of missing persons (during armed conflict: 1996-2006) in a comprehensive psychosocial program supported by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), I am thoughtful even more on this day about them and both their suffering and strength of facing such adversity. Nepal government has been trying to address the issues of families of missing in conflict through the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) while there has been little efforts made in search for missing migrants and helping their families. ICRC and Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) jointly have been trying to help such families through its tracing and restoring family links (RFL) activities. It is hard to estimate the number of missing migrants because little records are available.

In recent years, one of the major attempts to help Nepali migrants has been Safer Migration Project (SaMi), a bilateral initiative of the Governments of Nepal and Switzerland. HELVETAS Nepal and the Ministry of Labour and Employment are implementing the project at the district level in over 19 districts through local NGOs and government agencies. SaMi aims to promote safer and beneficial migration by helping migrants to be informed, skilled and safer in context of foreign employment. My interaction with colleagues and local people recently in Saptari and Dhading have indicated that SaMi project could produce some estimate of missing migrants that have been reported by the families in the Information and counseling centers (ICC).

Ms. Sanu Maya Aryal is a psychosocial counselor working in Chandrajyoti Integrated Development Society (CIDS) for Safer Migration (SaMi) project supported by Helvatas. She highlights the phenomenon of missing cases among migrant workers in Dhading district. In the last two years, they have helped over 411 migrants/their families in a comprehensive manner for safer migration. Out of 411, they have recorded 60 cases of still missing migrants and 14 cases have been solved which were initially recorded as missing.  The families are completely unaware of whereabouts of their loved ones who have gone for foreign employment. She herself is familiar with an agony of having a missing family member as her father had disappeared during an armed conflict.

Ms. Aryal says, “Definitely this issue of missing migrants has not received an adequate attention on the national level, I can say there are many unreported cases of missing migrants. I have been to places in Dhading where people do not speak Nepali, are illiterate and so poor (lack resources) that they cannot report the case of disappearance to the authorities or NGOs. One of the major challenges while coming across such cases is lack of proper documents with the family. They show us the photograph of a person which is like 7-8 years old and creates difficult for identification of the person.”

She recalls, “ It is a very challenging task to search for missing migrants. And sometimes, even when the person is helped to reestablish family relations, an unfortunate event can take place. It is not a happy ending. There was one case in which a female migrant had lost contact with family for over 5 years. The family reported her as missing and after much efforts, she was rescued back to Nepal. She had suffered as housemaid and had been traumatized. Upon her return, she was further traumatized when she came to know that her husband had remarried and she had little means to support her two children. She ultimately committed suicide.”

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Migration is one of the major national issues with migrant population contributing to over one third of national GDP through remittance. Nepal is one of the countries with highly remittance-dependent economy in the world. It has been major force in improving economic conditions of majority of Nepali despite decades of political instability and pace of extremely slow development. It is important to note that it brought about many significant economic and social changes. The government of Nepal, concerned departments and related agencies should pay proper attention to migrants in general and also to the issue of missing migrants and their families.


Expressing solidarity with families of missing persons (in conflict and migration) on International Day of the Disappeared.

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Nepal Floods MHPSS response


Dear All,

If some of you (voluntarily or in some organizational capacity) are interested for MHPSS response in flood and landslides affected regions of Nepal, then, kindly coordinate with Protection Cluster Nepal led by Department of Women and Children of Nepal government which is coordinating the efforts between different agencies and trying to facilitate the best ways to reach the most affected as soon as possible.

I would also like to share some resource which might be useful:

IFRC toolbox: Key Actions for Psychosocial Support in Flooding

http://pscentre.org/wp-content/uploads/PSS-in-Flooding-Toolbox.pdf

Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Reference Group for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (2015). Nepal Earthquakes 2015: Desk Review of Existing Information with Relevance to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support; Kathmandu, Nepal.

http://www.mhinnovation.net/sites/default/files/downloads/resource/Nepal%20earthquakes%20MHPSS%20desk%20review_150619_0.pdf

James, L, Welton-Mitchell, C. & TPO Nepal (2016). Community-based disaster mental health intervention (CBDMI): Curriculum manual for use with communities affected by natural disasters in Nepal.

http://www.elrha.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/CBDMHI-Manual-Nepal-English-version-Disaster-General_Dec2016.v.pdf

For general updates, you can follow:

http://www.recordnepal.com/live-blog/2017-nepal-floods-live-blog/

Studying Psychology after SEE


This post might be useful for students who want to study Psychology after passing Secondary Education Examination (S.E.E) in grade 10. As psychology is taught under the faculty of Humanities, at least C+ is required to pursue studies in psychology.

Sujen Man Maharjan

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This year’s SLC results came out few days before. SLC can be considered a ticket for higher education for Nepali students. I would like to share some information about studying psychology in Nepal after SLC.

Intermediate Level

With successful completion of SLC (School Leaving Certificate) exams, Nepali students complete their secondary education and get enrolled for Higher Secondary (grade 11 – 12) education under Higher secondary education Board (HSEB) under Ministry of Education. It offers four streams of studies: science, management, humanities and education. Psychology is taught under humanities and education streams in private colleges. There are limited colleges which offer psychology as one of the major subjects under Humanities.

See sample curriculum:

http://www.hseb.edu.np/content/docs/Introduction%20to%20Educational%20Psychology.pdf

http://www.hseb.edu.np/content/docs/child_development&learning.pdf

A Level

Another way of studying psychology is by getting enrolled in A level program. A-Level is an Advanced Level GCE (General Certificate of Education) qualification, equivalent to a two-year intermediate level, run under Cambridge…

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Community-Based Psychological First Aid ToT


Prof. Gerard Jacobs retired from his work last month after nearly 3 decades of service to the University of South Dakota and founding/leading the DMHI there.

My wishes for him:
“I wish Prof. Gerard Jacobs peaceful and productive life ahead after retirement, I am sure he will continue to engage himself in meaningful work. I am grateful to him for the training in Nepal in 2015, I appreciate the way he shared the knowledge with us in simple language with a lot of examples drawn from his own experience of working in other disaster areas.
I am also thankful to Jerry for helping me to participate and present my paper in International Congress of Psychology in Japan last year. Jerry, if you are keen on travelling then, please do remember, we are here to welcome you again in Nepal. Namaste!! “

Sujen Man Maharjan

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Community-Based Psychological First Aid Training of Trainers was successfully organized on 16-20 November 2015 at Kathmandu. Twenty-nine participants were invited for ToT from the faculties of psychology departments in Tribhucan University (Kirtipur, Tri Chandra and Padma Kanya Campuses), MPhil in Clinical Psychology, TUTH and psychologists/counselors working in various national and international organizations (ICRC, Nepal Red Cross Society, MdM France, TPO Nepal, Chhahari, Koshish Nepal, CMC, CVICT ) helping the earthquake survivors through MHPSS programs. This ToT has further enhanced the capacity of Nepali professionals to respond to emergencies by training the members of the community to support one another and meet psychosocial needs. Such approach is particularly important in our country because there is scarce trained human resource in MHPSS field and community-based interventions are more sustainable and effective.

I would like to thank Prof. Shanta Niraula and Sandesh Dhakal from Tribhuwan University for their support in organizing this training…

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