Human Rights

Addressing attitudes towards those experiencing mental illness; through training, raising awareness and challenging beliefs.

Those with mental illnesses are sometimes chained, beaten and abused; forced to go round in gangs begging for money.

Educating communities and challenging traditional beliefs associated with mental illness plays an important part in empowering those experiencing mental health problems; some of the most stigmatized and abused people in Nigeria.

Replacing acts such as whipping, chaining and physical confinement with family support and provision of Psychiatric Services is the enormous challenge which Amaudo seeks to continually meet.

“Each person who makes use of the services of Amaudo Itumbauzo has their own story to tell and each story has heart wrenching tales of abuse of one sort or another. For ten years Amaudo had listened to these stories then set them aside and responded as best she could to the needs of those entrusted to her. Amaudo’s decision to move into Human Rights work … was a decision about no longer setting those stories aside but instead beginning to address the issues raised in them.”
Ros Colwill, Founder of Amaudo Itumbauzo

Funding from Comic Relief was given to set up a 3-year project on three levels:

Mental Health Awareness: All the nurses in the Community Mental Health Programme received training to become a trainer. They then trained 2000 village health workers in mental health awareness. The effects of the training were profound; clinic visits increased significantly due to reduced stigma and greater understanding of the causes of mental illness. Since then an Education and Learning pack has been written in partnership with Amaudo UK. This tool will help the nurses to continue the awareness and training programme.

Prison Work:Amaudo Human Rights workers visited Aba Prison and worked with the Governor to treat and free those prisoners who were in prison purely because they were mentally ill. They were then taken to Amaudo for treatment and rehabilitation.

Case Work: A dedicated worker concentrated on cases of human rights abuse, raising awareness in that person’s family and campaigning on their behalf. A begging gang was broken up, which had been operated by one man who forced destitute, mentally ill people to chant and beg in the market place wearing chains, and drugged to keep them awake. Awareness of this terrible practice was made public and Amaudo worked to break up the gang, have the ringleader arrested and treat the victims. Work was also done to change laws so that such practices became illegal.

Amaudo is currently seeking funding to carry on this valuable work.

“People with mental disorders are, or can be, particularly vulnerable to abuse and violation of rights. Legislation that protects vulnerable citizens (including people with mental disorders) reflects a society that respects and cares for its people. Progressive legislation can be an effective tool to promote access to mental health care as well as to promote and protect the rights of person with mental disorders.
WHO Mental Health and Human Rights Handbook