Tuesday 31 July 2012

MC and Global Health—6

Mental Health as Mission:
Go Broadly, Grow Deeply
In Tamil Nadu, India. April 2012
Is it time to seriously tweak our member care paradigms and skill sets?
How does Global Health (GH) relate to member care and vice versa? One key connecting point is through global mental health (GMH). We think that GMH will have an increasing role to play for member care and mission/aid. We like to think of it as “mental health as mission” (mhM).
mhM embodies our joint efforts to serve humanity via the mental health sciences/disciplines. It is an important extension of our member care work, building upon the core MC focus of wellbeing/effectiveness for mission/aid workers in order to further equip/support workers who themselves are helping people in areas like domestic violence, depression, substance abuse, traumatic stress, etc. It can also involve our own direct services for people needing mental health and psychosocial support—so another important way for skilled MC workers to contribute beyond their usual roles.  
mhM is quite a frontier too, especially since mental conditions are largely untreated among the poor, and there are lots of poor among Unreached People Groups of course. For example, currently it is estimated by the World Health Organisation that estimate of 450 million people suffer from mental, neurological, or substance abuse conditions (MNS)--with about 75% going untreated in low to middle income countries. Further, one in four humans will likely experience some type of serious MNS condition during their lifetime. The ripple effects of course are considerable especially when MNS conditions are not treated, affecting friends, family members, finances, communities, the economy, etc.
Interview in India
Here are some more thoughts about mhM, weaving together global health and global mission realities. They are excerpted from our recent interview in the Chennai-based Christian Manager magazine (April-May 2012). Have a look at the entire interview (pages 23-28) as well as other articles in this issue on mission in India. This interview encourages us to consider the many opportunities to relevantly connect and contribute to mhM as we go broadly and grow deeply.
"One of the global trends challenging missions is the issue of migration--people who are on the move. According to the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM), there are around 300 million people who are in some form of significant international migration…The transition experience of migration incurs loss, grief and perhaps alienation [and many positive benefits!]. So the transition experience is not just something to focus on for mission workers and their families, but for other major blocks of humanity as well. I see all this as opportunities for missions.The world’s on the move and we should be too….The mission community can benefit from cutting edge resources such as the materials on the website of Families in Global Transitions (www.figt.org).”
“…the concept  of missions and who is a missionary needs to be revisited in the light of global realities...we can no longer talk only about traditional missionary work in an explicit evangelism and cross cultural contexts.  The utter need for crossing cultures and focusing on unreached people groups is still at the heart of mission. Yet the mission of God is much more than that. This also means going cross-sectorally in order to connect with human structures such as the global health community (e.g., World Health Organization and many NGOs), the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, [e.g., end hunger and poverty, provide universal education, improve child and maternal health, ensure environmental sustainability] and other organizations with an international, multi-sectoral, and faith-based reach—a good case in point is World Vision International. Clearly it is a call to bring both new and old gems out of our mission treasure chest, an ongoing process,  as envisioned by Christ in the Kingdom parables (Mt. 13:51,52).”
Going Further
1. Have a look through our new and main website for Member Care Associates, Inc. (www.membercareassociates.org). This site, like all we do in MCA, is dedicated to encourage us as we intentionally cross sectors, disciplines, and cultures for good practice in light of global realities. You will find a lot of materials to help broaden our boundaries—thinking, relationships, activities—for mutual learning and effectiveness as learners-practitioners.
2. Review the new article in the 16 May 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, A Framework Convention on Global Health: Health for All Justice for All by Lawrence Gostin.  If you get a bit lost (in spite of how well-written it is) don’t fret, since there are probably several new terms, organisations, ideas, and issues that you will come across and which are all part of becoming more conversant with GH. Why read this article? One important reason is because GH realities needs to inform our thinking and work in MC in mission/aid.
 Reflection and Discussion
**List a few items from the materials above (interview, web site, article) that are most relevant for your life and for your member care work in mission/aid. We really encourage people to review the materials with colleagues.

**Try to make a case (list a few reasons) for mhM being a distraction for MC and then in contrast for it being a duty of MC. Is MHM an obstacle or an opportunity--what do you think?

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