If you’re not familiar with Georgia Tech’s Computing for Good (C4G) initiative, now’s a good time to learn more about it. Why? Because along with the Carter Center, they are trying to transform how mental health is approached in one of the most challenging regions in the world — Africa.
Africa is a place not known for its stellar healthcare, as many of the continent’s nations struggle just to provide for the basic needs of food, water and shelter for their people. Mental illness continues to carry the heavy burden of prejudice and stigma.
Liberia is one of the world’s poorest and worst off nations in the region. Still recovering from a 14-year civil war where acts such as murder and rape (somewhere between 50 and 70 of women in Liberia were sexually assaulted during the civil war!) were commonplace, the Liberian people are struggling to get back on their feet and make sense of the tragedy they’ve lived through. Nearly 40 percent of the population experiences a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The country’s mental health needs — and the stigma surrounding mental illness — are daunting. As the Carter Center’s Janice Cooper, Ph.D. notes, “To most Liberians, people with a mental illness are useless for society. Some think that mental health conditions are contagious, or that victims are under the spell of witchcraft.”
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