Prix pour une réalisation exemplaire dans le domaine des soins en santé mentale

Depuis 2008 la Fondation Suisse pour la Santé Mondiale décerne annuellement un prix à une personne qui contribue à améliorer significativement des soins apportés à des personnes souffrant d’une maladie mentale. Ce prix est attribué en collaboration avec l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé. Pour cette raison, nous donnons la motivation de ce prix (de même que les résumés des travaux des lauréats), en anglais.

Mental and neurological disorders are the main cause of nearly 40% of all disability in the world.  An estimated 500 million people suffer from such disorders that would require health care and are severely disadvantaged in all aspects of their life, professional or personal. The burden for the relatives of the persons affected is also enormous. New knowledge makes the prevention and treatment of a large proportion of mental disorders possible and there is good evidence that with appropriate care, most people with psychiatric and neurological disorders can live a life of acceptable quality. This is of major importance for people affected and for those who look after them or support them. However, due mainly to the stigma or taboo linked to mental disorders, prevention and treatment are severely underfunded – as an example – less than 2% of the WHO’s budget is devoted to mental health.

The SFFM is aware of these facts and its « Award for an outstanding achievement in the field of mental health care » is a very small contribution to amend them.


The Award Winners

Angelica Mkorongo, Zimbabwe and Olga Kalina, Georgia – 2023

Angelica Mkorongo

Angelica Mkorongo was awarded the Prize which the Swiss Foundation for World Health has established to recognize outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health because she is a tireless advocate for action leading to better mental health and the recognition of human rights of people with mental illness.

Having herself experienced mental illness Ms Mkorongo devoted her time to help others who are or were struck by mental illness as well as their carers. She has been working with governmental and non-governmental organizations and peer organizations, attended conferences and advocated the need for support to people with mental illness on numerous fora. She was awarded the Zimbabwe community news network’s title of Outstanding Mental Health Advocate in 2022 and her work is well recognized by the World Health Organization which is working with the Swiss Foundation for World Health in the search for candidates for the prize which she has been awarded.


Olga Kalina

Olga Kalina is currently teaching a course on Mental Health, Disability and Human rights at the State University of Georgia. She is an active participant in national and international programs aiming to protect the human rights of people with mental illness, an advocate for their rights and welfare. Having herself experienced mental illness and inpatient treatment for it, she knows and tells others what needs to be improved in the provision of care to people with mental illness and how. She is a leading member of groups which advise the ministries of health and of Internal affairs about the ways to provide care while respecting the rights of those ill and their families. She participates and leads groups which are active in the promotion of mental health and the protection of people who have or are experiencing mental illness. She is also involved in work related to the development of peer support and coordinates internationally supported work on related matters.

The Swiss Foundation for World Health and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of the World Health Organization are in full agreement about the merits of Olga Kalina and her work which deserves international recognition for its excellence and meaning

Mahat Pashupati and Arun Raj Kunwar, Nepal – 2020

Dr. Mahat Pashupati
Dr. Mahat Pashupati

The 13th award (2020) was given jointly to to Dr. Mahat Pashupati and Dr. Arun Raj Kunwar from Nepal. Dr. Mahat Pashupati, a clinical psychologist, devoted more than twenty years of his career to develop community mental health services integrated in the primary health care system in remote parts of Nepal. In 2003, when there were little more than three dozen psychiatrists for twenty million people and hardly any mental health services available in Nepal outside the capital Katmandu, he founded the Center for Mental Health and Counseling. Under his leadership the Mental health training package for health workers in a primary health care system was developed and tested. Through his leading effort, mental service was extended at the community level in primary health care facilities in 34 districts; more than 1100 health workers, 280 nurses and 300 doctors have received mental health training and over 60000 people received mental health services in primary health care facilities. Dr Mahat also lobbied consistently for cost-free treatment of mental illness and the provision of cost-free medication to treat mental disorders at the community level. He has developed easy understandable and widely disseminated information materials such as mental health radio programs, mental health message boards and locally available media to provide mental health information. These efforts facilitated access to health care facilities and the provision of mental health care and helped building a supportive environment to people with mental health problems and for their caretakers. He has successfully expanded psychosocial support services for survivors of gender-based violence, migrant workers and their families left behind, survivors of disaster events and recently for people in quarantine and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, he has also contributed to mental health research in Nepal realizing a nation-wide mental health survey.

Dr. Arun Raj Kunwar
Dr. Arun Raj Kunwar

Dr. Arun Raj Kunwar, M.D. is the first Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist of Nepal. Leaving a rewarding career in the USA he has established the first child and adolescent mental health (CAMH) outpatient service in Nepal and has been instrumental in establishing a CAMH unit which provides outpatient and inpatient care. His vision isn’t limited to treatment – it includes the overall development of the mental health care for children and adolescents in his country. He also led the development of the “Child and Adolescent Mental Health Care Package”, a manual adapted from the mental health GAP 2.0 (WHO) helping to train health workers about ways of dealing with child and adolescent mental health issues at the community level. The engagement of local communities, primary care and schools in mental health efforts, which he promoted, plays a vital role in the identification of needs for care as well as in the expansion of preventive efforts and clinical services across rural and urban Nepal. He has worked with the Government of Nepal advocating the improvement of mental health care for children and adolescents who are kept in juvenile detention centres and has been in the forefront of mental health disaster management for children and adolescents in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2015 and most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is the founding editor of the « Journal of Psychiatrists’ Association of Nepal » and was the President of the Psychiatrics` Association of Nepal.

Aventinus Saur and Wan Marsuan, Indonesia – 2019

The 12th award (2019) was given jointly to Aventinus Saur and Wan Marsuan from Indonesia. Aventinus Saur is a catholic priest who has devoted his time and effort to help severely mentally ill people in one of the least developed areas of Indonesia. Many of them were in chains from which he has freed them, others were homeless and he found families which accepted them and hospices to admit them. He created a nongovernmental organization to help in this work and attracted several hundred people to join it. The government has recently ordered to discontinue “pasung” (putting mentally ill people in chains, a customary way of restraining them particularly in areas in which there are no services) but progress is slow and Avent Saur’s work is a shining example that it is possible to help people with mental illness and protect their rights even in the poorest areas of the world.

Avent Saur fought to unchain the mentally ill and help them with support of volunteers supporting those engaged in health services who have devoted their time and effort to the same goal. Among them is Wan Marsuan working in South Sumatera, one of the provinces of Indonesia with the highest rate of shackling mentally ill people made it his goal to free them from chains and find ways to help them to live a life worth living. A health officer working in the area for many years, first as a public health officer and later as the head of the noncommunicable disease and mental health section of the District Health Office he is one of those who have demonstrated that health services could do very much to help the mentally ill and their families even when human and material resources are extremely restricted.

Anne-Marie Schönenberger, Switzerland – 2018

The 11th award (2018) was given to Dr Anne-Marie Schönenberger from Switzerland. As a young doctor, Anne-Marie Schönenberger accompanied by a nurse and a technician went to Cameroon in 1968 where in Petté, a small village in the North Province, she became the head of a hospital still under construction and lacking medical equipment, running water and electricity, founded by a Swiss doctor Dr Guiseppe Maggi. During the next fifty years, Anne-Marie Schönenberger with the financial help of the Fondation Sociale Suisse du Nord-Cameroun, developed the hospital into a fully functioning structure with 150 beds, offering care in general medicine, surgery, pediatrics and ophthalmology; it has a maternity, a well- furnished pharmacy, a modern laboratory and a competent technical service and it takes care of preventive medicine. About 12’000 patients come to the hospital for consultation each year. Anne-Marie Schönenberger not only took care of the hospital (recently recognized as a District Hospital by the Ministry of Public Health), but also took care of the region surrounding the hospital, making wells  in numerous villages  providing water for the population and their animals. Mills were constructed, a library made available to school -children, women are sewing and weaving and produce bread, cheese and yoghourts for sale on the markets. By her immense personal involvement and insight in many domains, Annemarie Schönenberger made Petté and its region a model of a successful development in primary health care and rural development.

Charlene Sunkel, South Africa – 2017

The 10th award (2017) was given to Ms Charlene Sunkel from South Africa.  Ms Sunkel, who has experienced severe mental illness herself, became a leading voice, first in South Africa and more recently globally fighting for the rights of people with mental illness. She heads the South African Mental Health Advocacy Movement and the newly created global Mental Health Peers movement. In addition to representing people with mental illness and speaking in many meetings and other fora she has also produced remarkable publications dealing with on empowerment and partnership in mental health care.

Alejandro Paiz, Guatemals and Joseph Atukunda, Uganda – 2016

The 9th award  (2016) was given to Dr Alejandro Paiz, the president of ALAS, an organization that he created to provide care to people with mental disorders in Guatemala. The work of Dr Paiz and his association makes care for the people with mental illness living in the rural, difficult to reach areas of the country possible and effective involving the whole community. The manner in which the care is provided is not only dealing with symptoms but also prevents stigmatization and its many negative consequences thus enabling people with mental illness and their families to continue their life in a productive manner despite the illness.

Budi Anna Keliat, Indonesia – 2015

The 8th award  (2015) was given to Ms Budi Anna Keliat, senior lecturer of mental health nursing of Indonesia for her excellent performance over many years and in particular in connection with the organization of community mental health nursing following the tsunami in 2014.  This programme made it possible – among many other positive outcomes – to identify families which had initiated the use of chains and other forms of restraint to manage their family members with severe mental illness without treatment.  This work as well as her previous activities contributed to making mental health nursing more visible priorities in Indonesia.

Jagannath Lamichhane, Nepal – 2014

In 2014, the seventh award was given to Jagannath Lamichhane a mental health activist who has created the Nepal Mental Health Foundation – the first civil society organization established in Nepal.  The focus of his work has been the reduction or prevention of stigma attached to people with mental illness and their families, a goal which he has pursued by promoting the leadership of people who experienced mental illness, by raising the community awareness about the need to provide services and support to people with mental illness and by advocating the development of policies that support measures that are necessary to improve the life of people with mental illness and their families. His efforts to engage the media in this area has been particularly successful and he has written a regular column dedicated to mental health issues in the largest selling English language journal in Nepal and made written contributions to a variety of other leading newspapers and scientific journals. Most recently he has been given the responsibility of principal coordinator of the Movement for Global Mental Health, a position which will make him work mainly on the international level in the next three years.

Robinah Nakanwagi Alambuya, Uganda – 2013

The sixth award (2013) was given to Mrs Robinah Naganwagi Alumbuya from Uganda. Mrs Alumbuya grew up in a family of which many members had physical or mental diseases and impairment.  She experienced mental illness herself yet spent more than twenty years of her life helping others, both at policy and at implementation levels.  She initiated the Mental Health Resource Centre, the first of its kind in Uganda, helped to create the national policy for mental health and contributed to the development of relevant legislation. She worked with many vulnerable and disabled people at the community level, fostering, counselling, mentoring and helping them while advocating the satisfaction of human rights and support for all those with impairments and disabilities at all levels of government.  In 2011, she was elected the Chairperson of the Pan-African Network of People with psychosocial disabilities.

Vandana Gopikumar, Republic of India – 2012

The fifth Award (2012) was given to Ms Vandana Gopikumar, from India, who is the co-founder of the Banyan, a unique organization created to help homeless women with mental health problems.  The organization  begun  its life as a transit care facility providing crisis interventions as well as treatment and rehabilitation services for women with mental illness. It gradually expanded, led by the needs of the user, to develop comprehensive mental health services in urban and rural low resource settings by running psychiatric clinics and social care programmes,  long term options, including establishment  of self-help groups  and  subsequently  a resource  center, the Banyan Academy of Leadership in mental health (BALM). This academy developed partnerships with the government, civil society organizations, individuals and collectives and substantially helped the development of mental health services in other settings. Ms  Gopikumar’s  work is a remarkable example of a strategy of bringing together various social agents in the development of mental health programs, now widely recognized as such in India and elsewhere

Claudina Cayetano, Belize – 2011

The fourth Award (2011) was given to Ms Claudina Cayetano from Belize. Ms Cayetano was the only psychiatrist in the country when she arrived from her postgraduate training spell in Guatemala. She gradually transformed the mental health service in her country, developed a mental health policy which was taken as a model by the Panamerican Health Organization, transferred patients from a custodial mental hospital into community based services, created a non-governmental organization (which, inter alia helped to decriminalize suicide) and introduced elements of mental health into primary health care and into other community based services and, in the real sense of the word, developed the mental health service based on the best of evidence and experience for the country .

Sally Hullugalle, Sri Lanka – 2010

The third Award (2010) was given to Ms Sally Hulugalle, from Sri Lanka. Ms Hulugalle visited the Mulleriyawa mental hospital in 1984 and found that it housed more than a thousand women living in inhuman circumstances, abused, sexually assaulted, malnourished and abandoned by society. She has spent the next thirty years fighting to improve their fate and succeeded to attract sufficient attention which led to a significant improvement of the situation. In the process she helped to establish a rehabilitation unit in the hospital and created a nongovernmental organization, NEST which not only worked for the women in Mulleriyawa, but also initiated numerous other mental health activities in the country ranging from the development of community based mental health services in a number of places to support to the education of community mental health workers.

Sylvester Katontoka, Zambia – 2009

The second Award (2009) was given to Mr Silvester Katontoka, from Zambia who had suffered from a mental illness and subsequently decided that he would devote himself to improve the lot of mentally ill people in his country.  He became a leader of the local organization of consumers of mental health care which he had created and in the years that followed, brought the authorities to change an earlier Mental Health Act prejudicial to the mentally ill and to adopt a new policy concerning the care of people with mental illness. He helped to establish mobile mental health units, spoke on the radio, organized courses and held seminars aiming to increase awareness of mental illness and ways of dealing with it.

Louis Lakreo, Cameroon – 2008

The Award was given for the first time in 2008 to Mr Louis Lakreo, a psychiatric nurse living in Cameroon. After his graduation in 1989 Mr Lakreo had, singlehandedly, developed a psychiatric service that at first covered needs expressed at a provincial hospital and subsequently the needs of the northern region of Cameroon.  He  first  worked  alone  before, after ten years, he was joined by another nurse and an aide. A few years later he was appointed Chief of the Mental Health Office in the provincial government and Head of a department of psychiatry in the provincial hospital. In this new position he not only continued providing services but also convinced authorities of the need to expand mental health and increase resources for care.  It was estimated that he had been seeing and treating some 6000 new patients a year in addition to serving as the leader and advocate for mental health care in the community and with the authorities.