Stigma can affect all aspects of NTD control, including health-seeking behaviour, case detection, uptake and adherence of treatment, prevention of disabilities and social inclusion. While the causes of stigma may differ between NTDs, the manifestations and consequences are remarkably similar across cultures and diseases. This is especially true for the impact on mental health. The cross-cutting nature of these problems offers opportunities for cross-NTD learning regarding stigma reduction strategies, and for joint interventions to address the psychosocial consequences and promote social inclusion of all persons affected by NTDs. While there are some gaps in evidence, it is clear that, as with other chronic diseases, addressing stigma and mental health holds the possibility of improving overall health outcomes, and contributing not only to quality of life for people affected, but to the elimination agenda. However, despite the relationship between mental health and NTDs growing increasingly clear, interventions that take an integrated approach are still far and few between.
This pre-session aligns with the anticipated World Health Organization’s Road Map for Neglected Tropical Diseases (2021-2030), which is expected to intensify cross-cutting approaches incorporating mental health care, social support structures, and stigma reduction. The session will share experiences from different disease domains and country contexts, to show how projects have taken different approaches to addressing mental health and psychosocial wellbeing using existing NTD care structures.