Webinar on pressing issues in mental health

A webinar titled “Pressing issues in mental health” was held virtually on 21st July 2021 from 6 to 7 p.m. Nepal time. This webinar was the first in the web series for capacity building of early-career researchers in Nepal. It was organized by TPO Nepal, in partnership with George Washington University (GWU), as a part of the RESHAPE project. A total of 116 participants participated in the webinar moderated by Anubhuti Poudyal from GWU. Dr. Brandon Kohrt from George Washington University, Dr. Mita Rana from Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), Dr. Kedar Marhatta from World Health Organization (WHO), and Susmeera Aryal from Women’s Group for Disability Rights (WGDR) were the speakers for the event.

The first speaker, Dr. Brandon Kohrt, gave a brief introduction to the capacity-building activities of RESHAPE project. He also introduced the key speakers and their topics.

The second speaker of the event, Dr. Mita Rana then gave her presentation on the gender-inclusive environment in mental health in Nepal. She highlighted the social construct of gender and the gender gap in the workforce of western countries and Nepal. She also shared how women do 75% of the unpaid care work and yet get fewer decision-making powers. Dr. Rana then shared some suggestions to support gender equity in leadership positions. Some of them were supporting the female workforce, drafting inclusive policies, and promoting female mentorship.

Then, Dr. Kedar Marahatta, the third speaker, gave his presentation on the mental health knowledge gap and implication for service development in Nepal. He shared that some of the barriers to recognize mental health issues and seek care are stigma, cost of care, and availability of services. He concluded his presentation by urging to implement research to translate evidence into actions. He also suggested reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

After this, the fourth speaker, Susmeera Aryal, gave her presentation on the involvement of service users in mental health implementation. She shared how people living with psychosocial disabilities in Nepal have to go through high stigma and gross human rights violations. She also shared that the high stigma is likelier to be normalized if service users are included in mental health implementation. “Engaging service users in mental health research is also crucial,” said Ms. Aryal.

In the end, the participants asked some questions to the speakers. The questions and answers focused on the barriers to women’s representation in the mental health workforce, integration of mental health into the existing health system, and ways to increase service users’ involvement in mental health. This webinar was successful in raising some important points about the mental health system in Nepal.

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