Mental health care

Strategies of Fracarita International in the development of mental health care in the South:










1. Change mentality
2. Integrate in mental health care

Psychiatric patients are seen as being pos­sessed by bad spirits, they are abandoned by society and they are thrown in prison. Society is afraid of them, and everything about psy­chiatric illness is considered a taboo. When creat­ing initiatives in the field of mental health care, the Brothers of Charity try to change this general mentality.





In countries where they start initiatives in the field of mental health care, the Broth­ers of Charity try to convince local gov­ernments to recognize this care as part of the country’s global health care.


They try to stimulate and create a form of coop­eration in the field of mental health care with the ministry of health and develop a programme of mental health care in their health policy.


They ask special attention for the legal conditions of those patients who have to be isolated from society because of their behaviour which can be dan­gerous for themselves and their environ­ment.


Special attention is asked for those patients who are in prison because of an offence due to their mental disorder.

African witch doctor

African witch doctor

2. Integrate in mental health care
3. Adapt therapy, cure and care 

In mental health care, we are confronted with several realities requiring specific ac­tion.

  • Acute psychiatric diseases need an acute cure with adapted therapies on a medical, psychological, social and existential level. Psychotropic medication must be made available.

  • Stabilized and chronic psychiatric pa­tients require more care and adapted reha­bilitation programmes, in order to bring the patients into the most adequate social environment. This can mean going back to society, but also being placed in projects of sheltered living, sheltered workshops and special rest homes for chronic psychiatric patients.

  • Psychiatric diseases linked to other dis­eases and situations: people with aids, with drug addiction, posttraumatic diseases linked to war situations, violence against women, refugees and displaced people. All of these groups demand a specific treat­ment. In Rwanda for example, the Brothers of Charity started up special programmes for victims of the genocide; in the Kivu Region of Congo, there are special pro­grammes for women who were victims of violence; in Tanzania, for those who are liv­ing in refugee camps psychiatric clinics are set up and trauma counselling programmes are organized.

  • The importance of creating psychiatric consultations in the existing health care facilities: medical centres, rural hospitals, social services.

  • Developing prevention programmes in schools, churches, local communities. For example: in Kikwit, the staff of the psy­chiatric hospital organized a theatrical performance about the difference in treat­ment of psychiatric patients by a witch doctor and treatment in hospital.
    They perform this play in the local com­munities in order to create awareness. In the meantime, we develop education pro­grammes for schools by which youngsters can learn more on how to deal with mental illness.

  • Developing a positive attitude towards mental illness in our own schools and, at the same time, developing inclusive educa­tion on all levels and for all children with­out discrimination. By means of adapted education and specialized medical treat­ment, we give youth the possibility to de­velop a good life in society, and so prevent that they should be excluded from society due to their illness or disability.



4. Train local staff

In the African and Asian countries where the Brothers of Charity are active, there are very few psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, social workers. An important task is to train local people to become specialists in mental health care. Therefore, training programmes are devel­oped on several levels:


  • Founding schools for psychiatric nurses and social workers. in Tanzania, a school for social workers was established. In India, the Dr. Guislain - Svastha Education Trust was founded to train social workers in mental health care.

  • Developing training programmes and exchange programmes for medical doc­tors and other health care workers at the request of the local authorities and other nongovernmental organizations, in order to enhance mental health care. Belgian specialists are sent to Africa and Asia and training programmes are organized in the psychiatric hospitals in Belgium for Afri­can and Asian health care workers.

5. Create international solidarity 

The Brothers of Charity combine a strong international central structure, creating real solidarity between the different partners, with a participative management system involving the local partners in decision-making and sharing of responsibilities. With this combination, the Brothers of Charity guarantee the continuity of the engagements.


Some years ago, the Brothers of Charity started Fracarita International in order to bring people from several continents together who wish to help and support the Congregation in their efforts for the promotion of the protection of persons with mental illness, especially focused on human rights for psychiatric patients. For this purpose several country offices and regional fundraising offices have been created in different parts of the world.