Mental Health in Tunisia
Tunisia, a center of Arab culture and home to 11.7 million Tunisians, has been making significant strides in improving its care for mental health across all stages of life. Battling the overwhelming stigma and discrimination against individuals facing mental health issues, Tunisian citizens have been working diligently to change attitudes toward mental health in their country. Mental health in Tunisia ranges from disorders to everyday anxiety struggles; however, most cases go undiagnosed as many are afraid to bring upon themselves the stigma associated with being publicly labeled as a person with a mental health disorder. Nonetheless, consistent effort to reduce mental health stigma has improved Tunisia’s overall public health. 

The Conception of Mental Health Among the Youth

Since 2012, International Alert, a peacebuilding organization, has been working with Tunisia to support a peaceful democratic transition, guaranteeing the inclusion of excluded and marginalized groups. In 2022, they conducted a survey-based study to analyze the impression of mental health among Tunisian youth and their personal experiences with mental health struggles. The study concluded that Tunisia’s youth lacked knowledge about mental health. However, when questioned about mental health in Tunisia, there were both positive and negative responses. A significant number of participants rated their mental health negatively and were reluctant to admit their struggles with mental health issues. They were also hesitant to seek assistance from mental health facilities or psychologists, despite being aware of the need for professional help. 

Obstacles: Institutional and Social

There are two types of obstacles evident in the study: institutional and social obstacles. These two categories can be intertwined and mutually reinforcing. For instance, the lack of accessible services has resulted in an absence of a mental health culture in Tunisia. Additionally, the cost of treatment further exacerbates the issue of inaccessibility for marginalized and discriminated groups in Tunisia. The stereotypes that arise from the absence of a mental health culture have led to prejudice, stigma and bullying against individuals who struggle with mental health issues daily.

READ Training

Based on the background information regarding mental health in Tunisia, it is evident that both social and institutional changes are necessary. In 2017, a team of psychiatrists from Razi Hospital initiated the Responding to Experienced and Anticipated Discrimination (READ) program. This program aims to provide anti-stigma training to medical students at Tunis Medical School. The effectiveness of this training has been demonstrated in high-income countries, raising hopes among professionals for similar outcomes in Tunisia.

The main goal of the Tunisia READ training is to build people’s knowledge of stigma and combat its daily effects on individuals. Awareness of attitudes towards mental illness and psychiatry is the first step towards improvement because recognizing a problem is essential to fixing it. Following this goal is the aim to reduce discriminatory behavior towards individuals with mental health disorders and their caregivers.

Despite the initial challenges posed by the pre-existing attitudes of medical students and citizens, the trainers of this program persevered and remained consistent in their goals. They actively engaged with people to implement an improved attitude towards mental health in Tunisia.


In conclusion, Tunisia has been actively addressing the stigma surrounding mental health and making efforts to improve the overall care for individuals facing mental health issues. The study conducted among Tunisian youth highlighted the lack of knowledge and reluctance to seek professional help, indicating the need for institutional and social changes. Initiatives like the READ training program have shown promise in raising awareness and combating stigma, with dedicated trainers working persistently to foster a positive attitude towards mental health in Tunisia. Continued efforts and consistent engagement are crucial for achieving lasting improvements in mental health care and reducing discrimination in the country.

– Sandy Kang
Photo: Pixabay

Mental Health in Côte d’IvoireCôte d’Ivoire, located in West Africa with a population of roughly 22 million, is the largest economy in West Africa due to its exportation of cocoa and cashew nuts. However, one element of this amazing country that is often overlooked is the mental health facilities and help available to those who need it. 

Mental Health Statistics

As of 2007, the government has funded a program titled the National Program for Mental Health (also known as PNSM) which allows civilians to receive the help that they require and deserve. This could be due to the aftermath of the First Ivorian Civil War from 2002-2007, in which many people were left with unresolved mental and psychological issues. There is no exact number of people who are suffering from mental health issues in Côte d’Ivoire, but there are only three mental health facilities for 21 million people. 

However, due to recent developments, this statistic is about to change; many charities are introducing schemes and programs targeted at reducing the number of people who are suffering from mental health issues and are unable to get help. 

Bluemind Foundation

The Bluemind Foundation is a nonprofit charity set up in 2021 to help tackle women’s mental health battles throughout Africa. Their first mission for Côte d’Ivoire was to introduce the ‘Heal by Hair’ program

The program is designed to give hairdressers the skills and knowledge that they will need in order to recognize the warning signs of somebody who is battling with mental health and how to adapt their visit to make it the most beneficial. This scheme was introduced to over 200 hairdressers throughout Côte d’Ivoire in August 2022 and is aiming to be completed around March 2024. 

This project is a prime example of how a community can be a massive help when tackling both local and global issues, as opening the lines of communication between hairdressers and clients creates a friendly and secure environment for conversations to occur. There are also charities that use other vectors like religion to improve the number of people suffering, such as Brothers of Charity. 

Brothers of Charity

The Brothers of Charity was first opened in 1807 by Fr. Peter Joseph Triest with the aim of teaching young religious men to care for the elderly. However, their services were first introduced to Côte d’Ivoire in 1992 when the Congregation opened a house in Abidjan, allowing the brothers to receive both spiritual advice and professional training. This then led to the two-year-long development of a psychiatric hospital. 

Looking Up

Thanks to charities such as ‘Heal by Hair’ and ‘Brothers of Charity’ alongside the development of government-funded programs such as PSNM, more help is on the way to address mental health in Côte d’Ivoire. This means that the population of Côte d’Ivoire can now finally process the traumatic events that they have experienced so far this century and move toward a life of healing.

– Ella Bushell
Photo: Flickr