Sparks Meet-Up 2023: Highlights

Sep 19, 2023

Sparks Meet-Up 2023: Highlights

Sparks Meet-Up 2023: Fostering Connections in Global Mental Health, a one-of-its-kind event was organised by the SHM Foundation, Segal Family Foundation and Fondation d'Harcourt in Nairobi, Kenya, from September 18 - September 20.

Over three days, 30+ stakeholders in mental health - ranging from community-based mental health organisations, funders and philanthropists - came together to collaborate, share knowledge and brainstorm some of the most pressing issues in global mental health. This blog captures all the action and highlights from the event.

Thank you Patrick 'Sapat' Opips, Martin 'Drix' Muyeshi, Giscard Ingabire, Lewis Koome and Rosemary Muthoni Muna for capturing the event through these beautiful photos.

DAY 1: Welcomes & Showcase Hour

The event kicked off with introductions from the organisers - Anna Kydd and Zuzana Figerova from the SHM Foundation, Virgile Bahujimihigo from the Segal Family Foundation and Gaia Montauti and Sara Pedersini from Fondation d'Harcourt. Dr Catherine Wanjiku Waweru, Psychiatrist at the Kenyan Ministry of Health in the Mental Health Division, delivered the Welcome Note, outlining the mental health scenario in Kenya and welcoming attendees to the country.

The evening commenced with Showcase Hour, a series of short film screenings, celebrating the power of community-based initiatives to create change in their local settings.

DAY 2: Panels on Wellbeing, Impact & Sustainability

The day was filled with energetic discussions - from panels on wellbeing, impact and sustainability, followed by networking opportunities in the beautiful hotel gardens.

Wellbeing Sparks Discussion

The day commenced with a panel discussion on the significance of wellbeing for those working in mental health, facilitated by Dr Vittorio Sandri, Head of Wellbeing at the SHM Foundation. The panelists discussed how they have included wellbeing in their organisations, the challenges they continue to face, and funders' responsibility to cater to the wellbeing needs of mental health practitioners.

Wellbeing Panel (L-R): Dr Vittorio Sandri (SHM Foundation), Georgious Orishaba (Church of Uganda Kisiizi Hospital); Rosemary Gathara (Basic Needs Basic Rights Kenya); Queentah Wambulwa (Girls for Girls Africa Mental Health Foundation); Geoffrey Khira (Basic Needs Basic Rights Kenya); Peter Obonyo Omwony (Center for Victims of Torture, Uganda ); Geoffrey Samal (Center for Victims of Torture, Kenya).

Impact Sparks Discussion

SHM Foundation's Impact Team, June Larrieta and Georgina Miguel Esponda began the discussion by showcasing Ember's approach to impact. Panelists then discussed what impact means for their organisations and why it is valuable; how to strike the balance between generalised impact measurements and ensuring appropriateness to local contexts; and the changes they would like to see in the way impact is measured in mental health.

Impact Panel (L-R): Bright Shitemi (Mental 360); Georgina Miguel Esponda (SHM Foundation); Sara Pedersini (Fondation d'Harcourt); Claudia Sartor (Global Mental Health Peer Network); Vongai Munatsi (Positive Konnections); Florence Adong (BNUU Uganda); June Pastor (SHM Foundation).

    Sustainability Sparks Discussion

    What does sustainability mean for community-based mental health projects? After an interactive session with the audience, introductions were made by Urszula Swierczynska, Philanthropy & Impact Investing Advisor for Fondation d’Harcourt and Rini Sinha, Head of Strategy & Creative at the SHM Foundation.

    This discussion unpacked sustainability – understood through the lens of financial, social, human and intellectual capital, and discussed funding models, scale and replication.

    Sustainability Panel (L-R): Amisa Rashid (Nivishe Foundation); Michael Migayo Njenga (CBM Global Disability Dr Timothy Adebowale (Hope Restoration and Health Initiative); Ephrata G Worku (Mental Health Service Users Association); Briara Lorette (AVSI); Michael Njenga (CBM Global Disability Inclusion Kenya).

    Pause and Reflect Hour

    This time was dedicated for attendees to absorb the learnings of the day, take a walk in the garden or catch-up over coffee - participants were free to use this time in any way they wished to. The day concluded with a networking event for attendees. So many organisations had so much in common - they just needed a chance to get to know one another!

    DAY 3: Safari, Yoga & Brainstorm

    It was an early start to the day with an exciting drive through the Nairobi National Park. Lions, zebras and giraffes were spotted, followed by a yoga wellbeing session for participants to unwind and relax, led by Queentah Wambulwa from Girls for Girls Africa Mental Health Foundation.

    Sparks Meet-Up concluded with an energetic brainstorm. Attendees discussed Sparks Meet-Up's key takeaways to inform future events of this kind, and how we can all best collaborate to shape the future of mental health.

    How was the idea of Sparks Meet-Up event conceived? You can read all about the journey here.