Mission March 2019

Where: Bogotá, Colombia

When: : 4 - 8 March 2019

Who: Universidad Externado, Ministerio de Salud y Proteccíon Social (MoH), Ministerio de Justicia y del Derecho (MoJ), the Danish Embassy in Colombia, Enna Sofie Vendelbo Petersen (Danish student volunteering) and DIGNITY

Main activities, outcomes and conclusions
This was the first mission taking place since the project was officially launched. As such, a lot of activities revolved around formalizing collaborations, discussing the study’s key concepts and agreeing on how interventions should be carried out and in which municipalities, and creating and action plan for the three coming months.

Partners held a skype conference with mental health representatives from various project departments which provided insight into the post-conflict issues in focus, namely drug abuse and suicide among adolescents. A model was subsequently developed, laying out the potential interactions between conflict, mental health and vulnerability factors such as stigma and low social capital.

Regarding the methodology of the study, partners defined scientific concepts and are now working towards identifying what concepts to prioritize both in the quantitative and qualitative data collection design. Furthermore, Dignity was trained and granted access to health data bases.

Dignity met with the Danish Ambassador in Colombia to get a feel of the current political developments. Dignity also met with the Ministry of Justice to get an insight into the penitentiary system and discuss potential collaborations between Denmark and Colombia in this field.

Mission September 2018

Where: Bogotá, Colombia

When: 17-21 September 2018

Who: Universidad Externado de Colombia – Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social (the Colombian Ministry of Health), Ministerio de Justicia, ARN (La Agencia Colombiana para la Reincorporación y Normalización), JEP (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz), UNHCHR, PAPSIVI (Programa de atención psicosocial y salud integral a víctimas del conflicto armado) and Unidad de las Víctimas

Main activities, outcomes and conclusions
There has been a political shift from the peace process to a new health policy which includes focus on mental health and particularly drug misuse and post-conflict related trauma. This has not affected the support the project has received from the Ministry of Health.

Adjustments to the contracts with both the Ministry of Health and the Universidad Externado are still being made, in order to enable the final signatures from all partners.

The website in question (www.mentalhealthcolombia.org) was created to provide general information on the project and disseminate a monthly newsletter written by new DIGNITY Volunteer Enna Sofie Vendelbo Petersen.

The expectations and strength of the project were defined by partners as: mental health interventions being based on evidence; Interventions being community-based, based on existing resources and cost effective; interventions creating a platform that can be used by local governments; and interventions being used to shape national mental health policies.

DIGNITY met Ivan Darío González, the new Vice minister of Health to discuss the project and its objectives. DIGNITY also met with the President of Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), Patricia Linares, to understand the current structure and function of the JEP. Another meeting with the minister of Justice, Gloria Borrero, took place to discuss prison health and potential further projects in this area. Lastly, DIGNITY also met with Alberto Brunari and Juan Carlos Monge from the UNHCR.

Mission April 2018

Where: Bogotá, Colombia

When: 9-13 April 2018

Who: Universidad Externado de Colombia, Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social (MoH), the Danish Embassy in Colombia, OPS (Organización Panamerica de la Salud, La Agencia Colombiana para la Reincorporación y Normalización and DIGNITY

Main activities, outcomes and conclusions
The current political situation and the upcoming presidential election could influence on the project, but both the Universidad Externado and the Ministry of Health remain dedicated to the cause.

A systematic assessment by the Universidad Externado concluded that departments would be chosen on the following criteria: ppresence of camps for ex-combatants, former members of FARC; affected by post-conflict and now in the process of normalization: figures related to forms of victimization linked to the armed conflict; institutional capacity and sustainability; local projects and developments related to mental health; presence of diverse vulnerable population groups - conflict victims; geographical access and security conditions; and availability of information. Based on this assessment the departments of Cauca, Meta, Bolívar, Tolima and Putumayo were chosen.

Partners agreed the project should focus on conflict-related mental health conditions, namely depression, anxiety and PTSD.

A scientific committee was set up, consisting of Jens Modvig, Mauricio Aponte and Nubia Bautista.