Mental Health in Cambodia: 18 Life Stories

It’s precisely eight o’clock in the morning at the Taing Krasaing health centre, in the province of Kompong Thom, in Cambodia. There are already a dozen people who are waiting their turn for a consultation, without counting the family members who have accompanied them. The nurse will welcome them and then sort them out: Those who have a physical problem and those who need in addition -or solely- psychiatric or psychological help. The latter will be referred to another nurse or to a social assistant who will later follow these patients at home.
The medical staff here has been sensitized and trained about psychiatric, psychological and social problems. It’s a new approach in Cambodia, a country where a systematic support for people who suffer from psychiatric problems, as well as support for their families, does not exist. This is also the case concerning psychological problems linked to social problems such as poverty, conflicts, illness, violence or alcoholism.
This innovative approach emanates from a partnership between the local NGO, Trans-cultural Psychosocial Organization – Cambodia, and an internationally recognized NGO, Louvain coopération au Développement.
Louvain coopération au Développement is a Belgian NGO operating in five regions of the world: Latin America, Indian Ocean, Central Africa, West Africa and South-East Asia. In addition, this NGO has as mission to sensitise people in Belgium concerning the issues of development.
Its mission is at the same time simple and ambitious: to fight against hunger, disease and poverty.
Louvain coopération au Développement started its work in Cambodia by providing financial and technical support to local organizations in 2004.
The project “Mental Health and Psychosocial Intervention: an Integrated Approach between Psychiatric Outpatient Clinics and Community Mental Health Work” collaborates with governmental medical teams of 3 hospitals and 3 health centers of Kompong Thom province (psychiatrists, doctors and nurses). Social workers facilitate the link with the community where the beneficiaries live.
The goal of this pilot project is to improve the diagnosis and the care for psychiatric patients as well as to improve the support given to people suffering from psychosocial problems. To be more specific, more than 5000 patients have already benefited from this program and have seen their lives improve.
In addition to the direct impact for the Cambodian patients, this project has positive consequences that go even further. In fact, the actions and methods of care used in this pilot project are systematized and disseminated in other regions of the world in order to improve the fight against mental illness in countries of the Southern hemisphere. This is where Louvain coopération au Développement underlines its strong commitment, thanks to its link with the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL, in Belgium).
An estimated 25% of the province’s population could benefit directly or indirectly from this project, for which the beneficiaries and the provincial government show much appreciation.

Louvain Coopération au Développement ASBL
Avenue du Grand Cortil, 15A
1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Contact in Cambodia :

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