About Uvira Mental Health Center
Uvira Mental Health Center was born out of the desire of wanting to help the forgotten people with mental illnesses in eastern Congo to access the services they desperately need. It is a first-of-its-kind project seeking to address the mental health needs for the people traumatized by decades of violent conflict in the territories of Uvira, Fizi and Walungu (kamanyola) where services are currently non-existent in order to help relieve suffering and transform lives. The Center is designed to enable access to mental health services by providing a continuum of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric and related services throughout the three territories (Uvira, Fizi and Walungu (kamanyola) .
Since 1996, the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has been embroiled in violence that has killed as many as 6 million people. The conflict has been the world’s bloodiest since World War II. The First and Second Congo Wars, which sparked the violence, involved multiple foreign armies and investors from Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad, Libya, and Sudan, among others, and has been so devastating that it is sometimes called the “African World War.” Although the war was declared over in more than 10 years ago, eastern Congo continues to be extremely unstable.
The prevalence of rape and other forms of sexual violence is considered the worst in the world. In May 2011, the New York Times reported that a woman is raped every minute in the Congo. Aside from the severe physical and psychological trauma experienced by rape victims, sexual violence has contributed to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS. A number of NGOs provide economic, medical and basic needs assistance. But in territories of Uvira, Fizi and Walungu (kamanyola) few offer the therapeutic care needed to overcome the debilitating effects of torture, like depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder an psychological damages caused by the ongoing violence.
The need for mental health services is enormous and there are currently no mental health hospitals in three territories despite high rate of mental illness cases in the region. There is little question that repeated armed conflicts in eastern Congo have put so many people in desperate need of mental health services, which are unfortunately abandoned with no alternative but to go to traditional healers or exorcism rituals to drive away what they call demons (or evil spirits). The lack of an alternative place to go for treatment creates a danger for those who seek health treatment in the region. That is why Uvira Mental Health Center aims at providing an alternative to traditional healers and exorcism practices that remain the only options available to treat mental health illnesses in territories of the Uvira, Fizi and Walungu.
It is sad, but in Uvira and surrounding territories of Fizi and Walungu in Kamanyola, families continue to live in total ignorance that mental illness is a medical condition that can be effectively treated. It makes no sense for example, to continue blaming people locking up their family members who suffer from mental illness in chains and in their own houses when there's no single treatment facility.This is a critical gap in access to mental health care that Uvira Mental Health Center is trying to fill.
Uvira Mental Health Center is to fulfill its mission of enabling access to mental health services in eastern congo through Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Services that will be tailored to the needs of the individual. Uvira Mental Health Center is dedicated to improving the quality of life of people suffering from mental illness by providing the support and tools needed for successful recovery.