Leading international disability charity CBM UK and BasicNeeds UK, the largest global organisation specialising in supporting people affected by mental health issues are to merge creating a new global leader in mental health and development.

Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive of CBM UK says:

“For many people, the word disability still conjures up a picture of a person using a wheelchair or a white stick, but in fact mental health conditions are the world’s leading cause of disability, affecting over 450 million people at any given time.  And while the UK is seeing, at long last, increasing awareness of and commitment to invest in mental health, the situation in low- and middle-income countries where 8 out of 10 people with mental disorders live, is very different.There, most people have no access to mental health treatment or support. The extent of the suffering this causes, and the social and economic cost, is shocking.”

“From its foundation, CBM has been driven to reach those whom others leave behind. More than a century ago,our founder Pastor Ernst Christoffel was moved to help blind street children whom others barely noticed. Ever since, CBM has been working to help men, women and children with disabilities, and those at risk of disability, recognizing that they’re often the poorest and most excluded in their communities. Since 2002, we’ve been working to support people with mental health conditions in the world’s poorest places. This exciting merger with BasicNeeds will help us expand and develop our mental health work alongside our important programmes supporting people affected by blindness and other types of disability, to help meet this huge and neglected need.”

Adrian Sell, CEO of BasicNeeds says:

“I am delighted that we are able to announce the merger of CBM UK and BasicNeeds UK. For over seventeen years BasicNeeds (BN) has been a highly effective and influential international NGO that has developed a way of reaching the poorest to improve their mental health. Founded in 2000, BN has developed a model for working that has been tested in fifteen countries across four continents. We have successfully reached over 700,000 people affected by mental illness and epilepsy and their family members in a very wide range of resource poor settings across Africa and Asia.

“Like CBM’s founder Pastor Ernst Christoffel a hundred years before him, BasicNeeds’ founder Chris Underhill MBE was moved to help people who were being neglected by others. In Chris’s case he saw that those with mental health problems had needs that were often not even acknowledged by their community or society. BasicNeeds has helped to move the world from ignoring the plight of people with mental illness to a position where, today, there is growing interest and research into how we can respond effectively to the needs of people with mental ill health in developing countries. By demonstrating that something can be done, BN has both improved people’s lives and helped to persuade funders and policy makers to act.

“Building on this success BN is excited by the potential of joining with CBM to greatly increase the positive impact we can have on people with mentalhealth problems. Through working together we can combine our expertise and resources and become a leading global voice and source of expertise on mental health in development.”

Mental health around the world

  • More than 450 million people globally will have a mental health problem at any time. One in four people worldwide will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Mental disorders are responsible for more than 10% of the global disease burden.
  • 80% of people with mental health problems live in low-and middle-income countries. In most developing countries, less than 2% of health budgets is spent on mental health. Less than 1% of all financial assistance provided to developing countries for health is spent on mental health.
  • In low-income countries, people are more likely to experience poverty, unemployment, migration, and poor health and education systems, all of which increase vulnerability to mental illness.
  • In low- and middle-income countries, between 76%-85% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment, compared to 35-50% in high-income countries. Low-income countries have just 0.05 psychiatrists and 0.42 nurses per 100 000 people (in high income countries the rate for psychiatrists is 170 times greater for nurses 70 times greater).
  • In September 2015, the new Sustainable Development Goals launched by the United Nations, finally included mental health as a target, placing it on the global agenda.
  • The United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) integrated aspects of psychosocial support and mental health services in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 in March 2015.
  • See more at World Health Organisation Fact file on mental health