Somaliland is situated in the horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti to the west, Ethiopia to the South and West and Somalia to the South. Somaliland has a 740 Kilometres (460 mi) of coastline with majority lying along the Gulf of Aden. Somaliland is slightly larger than England.
The horn of Africa is well known for its conflicts. It has suffered the longest civil war in for more than 2 decades; the civil war in Sudan, Somali civil war, Ethiopian and Eritrea border conflict. However Somaliland has enjoyed peace and stability although unfortunately it is unrecognised by the international community.
Somalilanders have adopted a grassroots bottom up approach and Somaliland is a unique example of a functioning sovereign state in the horn. It has functioned from 1991 up to now without international support and managed to build functioning institutions and infrastructure.
Mental Health in Somaliland
The number of people who suffer from mental health problems in Somaliland has been increasing in the last 27 years. The main factors which contributed to the increase of the problem is believed to be the civil wars, high unemployment rate and poverty (Somaliland is one of the poorest nations on earth).
Furthermore, as a result of the long-lasting civil war, the health infrastructure of the country was destroyed skilled health expertise left the country looking for better employment opportunities elsewhere. In addition to that, the government has limited resources to cover the highly demanding mental health sector.
According to WHO, 10% of the world population is affected by some kind of mental distress and mental disorder. This percentage increases up to 20% in war-torn and conflict-prone countries, such as Somalia, where the extent of violence has permeated the different layers of the society (WHO, 2010).
Therefore, we set up Somaliland Mental Health Support Organisation in 2011, to support vulnerable people with mental health problems in Somaliland.
What We Do
The majority of the Somalis suffering with mental illness face isolation from the community. Many suffer in silence because of the lack of support available and the stigma attached to their illness. They feel alienated from the rest of the community and feel the only way to cope with their illness is through silence. This makes their illness worse. What starts off as minor depression or stress develops into a major mental health illness because of the lack of support available to those suffering and the reluctance to seek help and support
The only way to tackle this problem and overcome it, is to increase the availability of mental health services as well as early intervention programs.
In order to do this we have established local campaigners and fundraisers in many cities in England and Wales and a growing number across Europe and Somaliland.
Each local team has their own structure and leaders and organises the fundraising activities at local level. As an organisation we raised more than $60,000 in order to build an emergency mental health unit at Hargeisa Group Hospital. This is thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and the support of the Somalilanders in Somaliland and in the diaspora.