Poverty & Mental Health

Our latest blog has been written by Mrs. Bina Silwal, the Executive Director of KOPILA-Nepal (WDR Partner). Bina looks at poverty in terms of mental health and wellbeing and shares Kopila’s experience.

KOPILA-Nepal (KN) was established as a non-government social organization in 2001 with a vision  towards a society in which the rights of all people are realized and basic needs are met.

The team at KOPILA-Nepal strives to ensure that the most marginalised people in their society can enjoy their fundamental human rights and psychosocial wellbeing. To achieve this mission, it has been working with the most marginalized women and children through developing and mobilising self-help groups, skill development training, education, psychosocial counselling, mental-health treatment, re-habitation & social re-integration and advocacy for rights. Kopila Nepal works with family, community members, school teachers, and policy maker/implementers to deliver these programmes.
Currently we are working in nine districts of Gandaki Province (Western Nepal). 

Various studies, globally and in Nepal, have reported the reciprocal relationship between mental health and poverty. KOPILA also have similar experience that psychosocial and mental health affect peoples' socio-economic status of individuals and their family. Though there is no statistical evidence, we have experienced that many families living in chronic poverty are at the highest risk of developing poor mental health and psychosocial problems in the community. 

During our work in the community we found several such examples and we realized that medication only does not heal mental health problems. Therefore, we need to find out the cause that triggered mental health or psychological problem and plan our intervention accordingly. As stated above, in the case of the community we found that poverty has significantly contributed to increased poor mental health and this has pushed the whole family into poverty. Poverty should not only be taken as economic poverty but powerlessness, poor social support network, discrimination, voiceless are different forms of poverty.
For example, in Nepal, there is huge gender discrimination. Women’s voices are not heard, they are not part of decision making. They may have money to spend but they are still poor. In rural Nepal people are discriminated based on gender, caste, ethnicity, disability and so on and they are at more risk of falling into mental health problems.

How poverty can affect mental health


Kopila Nepal works with poor and marginalized women who are widows, abandoned, abused or victims of rape. Their voice is not heard, and they are they do not have any power even to demand rights they are entitled to. They are having problems to provide for their children’s basic needs and feel highly unsecured and vulnerable. Most of these women have developed the symptoms of serious anxiety and depression. Kopila Nepal provides psychosocial counselling to help develop their self-esteem. Medication is provided only if their symptoms are serious and, where possible, support is provided to make some income. When they start earning, they feel more secure, their self-confidence improves and due to Kopila they realise that they are not alone in their fight. This helps their mental health and also helps women become independent. 

Income generation support to SHG members in Sildujure VDC.JPG

Ganga Magar 52, a single mother, lives in Taprang village with her 3 children. She got into mental health problem due to difficulty to provide her children, Kopila-Nepal referred her for mental health treatment, counselling and provided goat-keeping training and business skills. She now earns enough to meet the basic needs of the family and can send her children to school. 

Mangali Ranabhat, 49, a resident of Madi 4, Thumako Danda suffered from poor mental health after the death of her husband. Due to her poverty she could not afford treatment as it is not available at local health centre in the village. Kopila Nepa also l supported her for her treatment, provided counselling and supported for goat-keeping business. She now is sending her daughter to school and is managing her home well with the income she makes. 

There are several stories of people and families whose mental health is suffering due to poverty. Kopila Nepal knows that this problem cannot be healed only by medication but needs a proper counselling. Furthermore, to help provide a solution, we must continue to identify the triggers for poor mental health in these circumstances. 

In a nutshell: SDGs

Another abbreviation we hear a lot in development, is ‘SDGs’. What does it stand for, and what do they mean?

The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are 17 goals agreed by the United Nations and implemented in 2016.

They define global problems and identify qualitative and quantitative targets to work towards as a global community.

Goals refer to issues such as poverty, food, health, education, water, clean energy, peace, climate action and many more. 

Cross-cutting themes are women and gender equality, education and sustainable development and education, gender and technology.

It is intended that the global goals will be attained by 2030. The aim is to protect the world and ensure that all people have a reasonable standard of living and opportunity. Ban Ki-moon, a past United Nations Secretary-General, has stated that: "We don’t have plan B because there is no planet B!”. SDGs have their critics but it gives a framework for debate and action and definite targets for measuring our success.

A Shared Vision

For many years, WDR has worked closely with our sister agency All We Can. In today’s blog, Jaipreet Kaur (Philanthropy Manager at All We Can) writes about our continued partnership and how, by coming together and each playing our part, we can make a significant difference.

And let us consider one another to provoke into love and to good works
Hebrews 10:24

All We Can has always been inspired by Christian principles, with its roots in the British Methodist Church. Methodism teaches the importance of missional work to alleviate the suffering of those living in poverty. In response, All We Can seeks to help people – of all faiths and none – to fulfil their potential, live with respect, and have the opportunity to flourish.The following words are often attributed to Methodist Founder, John Wesley:

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” 

The relationship between All We Can and Methodist World Development & Relief (WDR) is a great testament to these words. Together, for the past 16 years, All We Can and WDR have been working collaboratively to make resources go further. Our shared vision to finding solutions to poverty and injustice, is what makes this partnership so special. Together, we are able to create a greater impact in some of the world’s poorest communities – serving people of all faiths and none. 

From Malawi, Ethiopia, India, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Uganda to Cameroon – our partnership is a journey where two organisations have come together to make a difference. Shared vision and values, competence, integrity, interdependence and open communication is what makes a long-standing partnership work. 

All We Can and WDR supported work for a number of years in rural Ethiopia [Parnter:  SUNARMA ]

All We Can and WDR supported work for a number of years in rural Ethiopia [Parnter: SUNARMA]

Partnerships have enabled All We Can to implement projects that it could not commit to before. Through the years, we have been able to expand our partnership with WDR, not only in our long-term sustainable development work, but through All We Can’s emergency humanitarian response. We have been able to turn to our trusted partners during times of need, and through this special partnership we have seen lives changed. 

Both All We Can and WDR seek to serve others. We want to give practical expression to the love, care and responsibility we have to each other as human beings, and we strive to be humble and accountable in the way we work. We also recognise that we do not have all the answers, the resources or the skills necessary to achieve our purpose on our own. Therefore, we seek to work together in a spirit of collaboration and community – That spirit of collaboration has been something that has grown year-on-year with WDR.

We hope that our partnership, and the difference it is making in some of the world’s poorest communities, will inspire other organisations to build a partnership upon these values, which reflect the Christian faith.


After receiving training supported by the partnership between All We Can and WDR Manato went on to lead a women’s self-help group in Jharkhand, India [Partner:  The Srijan Foundation ]

After receiving training supported by the partnership between All We Can and WDR Manato went on to lead a women’s self-help group in Jharkhand, India [Partner: The Srijan Foundation]