Mental health disorders affect members of every community, regardless of color, culture, or income. But the stigma associated with these disorders can obscure their prevalence, as well as the scale of investment needed to provide adequate care and treatment. This disparity between prevalence and support infrastructure is most significant in developing countries in like Mozambique, where there is a significant lack in mental health resources, outreach, and education.
The Mahotas Psychiatric Hospital stands in contrast to the majority of psychiatric hospitals in Mozambique, extending its services beyond the standard in-patient psychosocial treatment to include a community reintegration program. This service includes a form of occupational therapy in which patients are encouraged to engage in a range of activities including farming, gardening, animal husbandry, sewing, and artisanal crafting.
Each person who sat for a portrait was asked to bring a symbolic item, or in some cases an animal, that represents their occupation within the hospital. Participation in the series was entirely voluntary, however, out of ethical considerations for patients with cognitive disorders, their identity was protected. Just as the Mahatas Hospital contradicts the dire conditions of many mental health clinics in Mozambique, this series diverges from journalistic representations of health disparities. Rather than exposing health inequalities from a distance, these portraits engage participants to honor their resilience.