Persistent stigmatization could lead to poor mental health, for example into depression. A depression in its turn worsens the patient’s recovery and lead to further exclusion from participating fully in society, reduced access to health and social services, lack of educational, income-generation and employment opportunities, and restrictions in exercising civil and political rights. These characteristics are all seen in those who suffer from NTD related disabilities. Unfortunately, the mental health of people affected by NTDs has often been ignored.
The integration of mental health services into NTD programs with a community-based approach is needed to prevent co-morbidity and social exclusion associated with mental illness and the follwoing NTDs: leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, cutaneous leishmaniasis, Buruli ulcer, trachoma and yaws. Mental health services should include the following elements: routine screening for detection; psychoeducation to strengthen the patient’s position in the community, to increase awareness and to remove prejudices; provision of generic depressants and psychotherapy; supportive networks for the patient and their family; and livelihood development to empower the patient to become an active part of society.