We believe that mental health is about freedom. Freedom is daring to be fully alive, to come home to ourselves, and to relish the world in mutual compassion.
Poverty is too often defined as a lack of financial resources. While this is true, it is only a part of the story. The freedom we hope everyone can experience comes from a deeper place than economic security. It comes from accepting and bringing our full selves to the life we have been given, and sharing that life with others.
Living into this freedom is a journey we undertake alongside our partners and their communities. The inspiration, healing, and salvation are mutual.
Mental health liberation led by the world’s vulnerable communities.
We equip community leaders to design and scale effective mental health solutions that transform their neighborhood, city, and country.
Theory of change: Brio’s work
Inputs: funding for in-country visits, research, engagement and seed capital; human capital within Brio and locally within the chosen context; mental health and management training; networks, community trust, relational capital
Activities: Brio collaborates with strategic local partners on mental health design process using our frameworks and partners’ contextual expertise; launch pilots across categories of capacity building, awareness/prevention, and treatment/care.
Outputs: Contextualized, accessible trainings are offered where previously not available; awareness and prevention programs are implemented through scalable structures (e.g., schools); increasing options for treatment and care are made available.
Outcomes: Local leaders and families participate in trainings offered by our partners, becoming more informed about mental illness and how to handle them in their communities; awareness and prevention programs increase average level of education around mental illness, shaping dialogue and behavior; treatment and care is utilized by those who previously did not have access.
Impact: Community awareness and prevention ultimately decreases stigma and increases participation in care options; local leaders and families use new skills to provide care, empathy, and compassionate healing to their communities; treatment and care is effective in helping communities manage mental illness and recover from catalytic events. The mental illness treatment gap shrinks, allowing more people to escape the vicious cycle between mental illness and poverty.
Broad impact: mental illness treatment gap
Why are we focusing on the treatment gap, and why does it matter? Let us start with two important principles that drive our understanding of impact in this space.
Principle #1: Mental illness is a part of the human experience. While it is one of the most challenging realities to undergo, it may not ever completely vanish.
Principle #2: What we can do is to help people heal by equipping communities with the tools and resources to offer prevention and care. Currently, the gap between mental health needs and available treatment is massive. By partnering with locals to build capacity, we can begin to address these unmet needs.
Why does the treatment gap matter?
- Economic burden: According to the World Economic Forum, the economic burden of mental illness alone is on a path to costing the global economy 16 trillion dollars between 2010 and 2030. This is due largely to the compounded effects of early onset mental illness that goes untreated, and results in a lifespan loss of productivity and premature death.
- Social burden: Mental illness is not contained within the affected individual. It is borne by that person’s family and community in the form of emotional and relational impact. Sometimes this impact becomes physical through violent behavior, neglect, or abuse. Those affected may themselves experience mental illness or a reduction of their freedom.
The current impact of the mental illness treatment gap is to perpetuate social and economic suffering. As mental illness goes untreated, it affects families and communities by multiplying their existing experience of poverty.
As the treatment gap shrinks, this perpetuation decreases as well. Mental wellness amplifies the impact of other resources available: employment opportunities, education, and overall health. As social and economic poverty decreases, the risks of mental illness decrease as well.
In all of our work, we protect and uphold:
- The power of communities: Mental illness is a burden held not just by individuals, but by communities. We believe that healing and resilience are developed in the presence and accountability of others. Our solutions are informed and empowered by the local community.
- The mutuality of compassion: Healing is not a transaction from one person to another. It’s the joy of finding strength and peace in each other. We constantly learn from the people we serve, and are inspired by their wisdom, love, and hope.
- Proximity to the vulnerable: It is impossible to make a thoughtful impact in the communities of strangers. We invest in and partner with locals who are experts in their contexts and deeply committed to long-term transformation.
Voices for the road
“The essence of our credibility lies not in our rescuing or saving the poor but rather by humbly surrendering to their leadership and listening to them.” – Gregory Boyle
“Being broken is what makes us human. …Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.” – Bryan Stevenson
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson
“Development can be seen as a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy.” – Amartya Sen