Winners of the 2015 Jim Birley Scholarships
It is with great pleasure that the Netherlands-based international foundation “Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP” announces the first winners of the new Jim Birley Scholarships. The Scholarship is shared in 2015 between two outstanding advocates for human rights in mental health. The winners of the 2015 Jim Birley Scholarships are Anka Jgenti from Georgia and Charlene Sunkel from South Africa.
Anka Jgenti from Georgia
Anka Jgenti became a psychologist after her brother fell victim to several episodes of severe torture. After starting business studies, she radically changed the course of her life and became a psychologist instead. She first started to work for the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims in supporting victims of torture, and subsequently became involved in programs for young offenders. Over the past years she has worked for the organization Saphari, and also for programs helping women and adolescent girls who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Jgenti’s aim is to use the Jim Birley Scholarship to pilot a program which will fill the gap in services and will focus on equipping parents with positive parenting skills.
Charlene Sunkel from South Africa
Charlene was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and personally exposed to the challenges of people with mental health problems. She was hospitalized numerous times, during which she witnessed all types of abuse inflicted on patients. These experiences inspired her to become an activist for mental health. She accepted a position in mental health advocacy with a mental health organization in the Gauteng province in 2006 and in 2014 she joined the South African Federation for Mental Health as a program manager for advocacy and development. She has written and produced theatre plays on life stories of people living with mental illness, as well as articles for medical journals and book chapters. She serves on a number of national and international boards and committees related to mental health, as a mental health service user representative. Charlene will use the scholarship award to help fund the development of a mental health application for smartphones that will provide an overview of human rights, relevant policies and legislation, an explanation of stigma and discrimination, and an online form to report human rights violations. The app will also offer a library of information on various mental disorders, signs and symptoms, treatment options, self-help advice, tips for families and other useful resources.
The Jim Birley Scholarships were initiated in 2013 by FGIP to honor its late Past Chairman Dr. Jim Birley and is meant as a stimulus to young mental health professionals and other stakeholders who have shown exemplary commitment to the issue of human rights in mental health. Each year the scholarship award is for 5,000 euros and is to be used for a project chosen by the winner.
This autumn a new call will be issued for the 2016 Jim Birley Scholarships. The scholarship is to be used for a cause to be proposed by the winner and should contribute to the strengthening of human rights in the field of mental health. A committee consisting of four members, including a member of the Birley family, will select the winners from the submitted applications.
How to apply for the 2016 Jim Birley Scholarships?
Candidates for the Jim Birley Scholarship should write to Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP and in a letter explain:
- Why they should be eligible,
- Provide details about their background and what they have done to further human rights in mental health, and
- What they intend to do with the scholarship.
Two letters of recommendation should be added.
Applications should be submitted before December 31, 2015. The Selection Committee will then select the winners of that year.