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People with lived experience of mental health conditions tend to be under-represented in the spaces where decisions are made about how services will be delivered and what laws will be passed. The Ethiopian government has recently begun making strides to address the severe lack of mental health services and legisalation in the country.
The MSUAE is an advocacy organisation of mental health service users that is working with government and medical professionals to ensure they have a meaningful say in the design and implementation of the country's mental health policy.
It's a big and challenging mission, but the team are committed to achieving it. Eleni Misganaw, the President of the association, told us why she does what she does:
"What motivates me to lead the Mental health Service Users Association (MSUA) is the firm conviction that service users are primarily experts by experience and their meaningful involvement in the health system goes a long way in improving mental service quality, accessibility and advocacy for more dignified care.
In countries like Ethiopia where mental service users are not generally regarded as rights holders, it is indeed a sustainably rewarding but a very challenging task to work toward the empowerment of service users as owners of the process. I look forward to our Association's partnership with Ember Team to make this ambition come true."
The MSUAE has a powerful opportunity to influence policy at very high levels. As a new organisation run by a group of dedicated volunteers, they face a challenge in making maximising these opportunities so they have the biggest impact possible.
Ember and MSUAE are working to build the team's capabilities in managing the operations of the association, and also to communicate their stories as people with experience of using mental health services.
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