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Better Mental Health, Better Lives
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1 in 4 people will be affected by mental illness - make a difference today!

About us

BasicNeeds is an international development organisation that was founded in 2000 by Chris Underhill after an initial encounter with tortured and caged mentally ill people within a hospital compound in Africa.

Mental health is hugely under-resourced and neglected as a health issue and therefore BasicNeeds works to bring about a lasting change in the lives of mentally ill people around the world.

Our vision is that the basic needs of all people with mental illness and epilepsy throughout the world are met and their basic rights are recognised and respected.

Our mission is to enable people with mental illness or epilepsy and their families to live and work successfully in their communities by combining health, socio-economic and community orientated solutions with changes in policy, practice and resource allocation.

What makes BasicNeeds different?
1. BasicNeeds is the only UK based international non-profit organisation, and one of the few in the world, specifically working to make change on the issue of mental illness and epilepsy in developing countries.
2. Our approach to mental health care and treatment is holistic and innovative, going beyond purely medical interventions to take into account social and economic factors for long-term recovery.
3. We implement a community based and people-oriented Model which emphasises the importance of enabling people with mental illness and epilepsy to re-integrate successfully into their families and communities, and re-gain their own self-respect and dignity by being an economic asset to their families.
4. Our combination of hands-on practical work with rigorous research and data collection supports people with mental illness and epilepsy to have their voice heard at a local level, allows our partners to advocate for and create change at a country level, and us to increase the prominence of mental illness and epilepsy on the global stage.



Since our inception, we have reached over half a million beneficiaries including mentally ill people, their carers and family members in the countries that we work in. BasicNeeds now aims to replicate, scale up and reach out to at least one million more mentally ill people and their families over the next five years. In order to achieve this, we will deliver the following strategic goals to achieve our purpose:

Goal 1: Building better lives

We will collaborate with a range of local, national and international partners to build on our achievements and accelerate the global implementation of the BasicNeeds Model using a combination of the following vehicles:

Programmes: consolidating our gains, we will maintain existing country programmes and transition programmes to independence. We will work towards achieving a sustainability strategy for each country programme.

Social franchises: building on our reputation, we will develop and manage new social franchises where appropriate. Empowering and supporting other organisations to take on independent delivery of the BasicNeeds Model will enable us to expand its reach in a sustainable and cost effective manner, whilst ensuring that quality and local leadership remain central to the delivery and BasicNeeds brand.

Services and products: we will develop and deliver a range of services and products to support all our scale up plans.

Goal 2: Influencing for Change

We will directly use the community based practical evidence generated by our programmes and partners to challenge existing systems and lead change nationally and internationally. We aim to achieve this through:

Collaboration: we will build on our reputation and continue to collaborate to increase the global profile and importance of mental illness and epilepsy, partnering with a range of national and international partners, and participating in international related initiatives.

International network: we will lead in the creation of an international network for those operating the BasicNeeds Model, providing an opportunity for partner members: to share learning, develop their practice; use local experience and evidence to challenge policy, and lead change on a national and international scale.

For more information about our Strategic Framework 2014 – 2018 click here


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    "BasicNeeds has empowered me to serve as a respectable member of my community as well as helped me provide for my family."
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