Goma DRC - Mental Health
INSTITUTE OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN MENTAL HEALTH (ISSM)
Since the start of the Institute in 2010 I have been a member of its Board of Directors and supported the Institute in other ways, such as by teaching.
A two weeks course in health and human rights is in preparation for 2013.
The various wars that raged in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo came along with mass killings, loss of possessions and migration movements of the population. The use of rape and mutilation of sexual organs as weapons of war aimed at destroying the moral lives of communities and ethnic groups are in particular targeting girls and women. However, several unofficial sources reported also the sexual abuse of men and boys. The kidnappings, rapes and the forced marriages have caused the transmission of HIV and AIDS infections and other sexually transmitted diseases. The consequences of war and the increase of poverty make a dark and catastrophic picture of the social reality in this region. The still ongoing rivalries between social groups are causing ethnic and identity conflicts that fuel the problems about possession of land.
These wars left serious after-effects, not only on the physical and economic level, but also on the psychological level. The mental health of a big part of the population in the Eastern region of the DRC is seriously affected and in need of professional help. Although official statistics about the mental health conditions do not exist, the conflicts and wars have caused complex traumas in the lives of countless people, families and communities.
The professionals working in the mental health sector of what is left of the health care system, public and private, are in insufficient number. The activities of psychosocial assistance and mental health care are almost exclusively performed by poorly trained people, working for non-governmental humanitarian organizations. Basic health infrastructures that are adapted to the mental health needs as well as qualified human resources to address these needs are missing in the country.
In the face of the overwhelming problems and poor mental health conditions of the Congolese population, the Institute of Higher Education in Mental Health (ISSM), has taken the initiative to develop and implement an education program for professional training in mental health.
The Institute offers three and four year higher education programs with the aim to deliver professionals and qualified personnel who will be able to respond to the needs of people in the Congolese society. The Institute is located in Goma DRC, and will have a regional function, providing education programs also for professional from surrounding countries in the region of the Great Lakes.