In the wake of Robin Williams’ death, mental health care has been on the minds of the Threads’ founders and I. We have found ourselves talking about the taboo, shame, and isolation surrounding depression and unsteady mental health. Too often medical care is not sought out for fear of what others will think. Even so, we are so lucky to have medical resources at our fingertips to keep our minds and bodies safe.
Nearly 450 million people in the world suffer from some form of mental disease. Even more striking: almost half the countries in the world have no explicit mental health policy. This is particularly true of the developing world, where many of our artisans reside. In a worldwide survey by The World Health Organization (WHO), it was found that 41% of countries have no mental health policy, 28% have no separate budget for mental health, 41% do not have treatment facilities for severe mental disorders, and about 65% of the beds for psychiatric rehabilitation are in mental hospitals.
With these numbers looming over the mental health patients in the developing world, we must all consider the gift of health care. How might we break the silence in the U.S. to better appreciate and use the gift we’ve been given? And how can we help those who have not been so lucky?
Our jewelry from Ethiopia and Kenya are one step. Women who have been exiled from their communities in Ethiopia because of their HIV status and women ostracized in Kenya because they are deaf have a chance at an income and a connection in the cooperatives we support there. Women from both groups have reported living with more dignity and connection after being welcomed into the cooperatives. As we all know, human connection is the most basic need; it keeps mental health in check in innumerable ways. We can take small steps to change the world, and connection is a framework for big change.
– Ayla Peacock, Threads Intern