ALAS strives to achieve its purpose and vision through four key programs
1. Access to treatment
ALAS' psychiatrists and psychologists provide direct clinical attention to the poorest patients by visiting them directly in their home and in an out-patient-clinic fashion. ALAS' community coordinators constantly monitor psychoactive drugs intake and educate family members about mental health disorders, adherence, basic care and human rights.
Moreover, we provide medication at cost through our multilateral agreement with Sanofi and Hospitalito Atitlan or for free thanks to a sponsorship programs where individuals, pharmacies and hospitals can donate medicines for ALAS' patients.
2. Fight Against Stigma
ALAS knows that stigma is our number one obstacle, undermining the economics and social opportunities of our patients and their families, on top of being the source of aggressive behaviors from to population towards people with mental disorders Stigmatization is perpetrated across virtually every level of the society, ranging from health providers to family and community members.
ALAS strives to reduce stigma by spreading information to the population. We do so by organizing workshops, events, conferences, and through an increasing presence in social media. Our goal is to educate the population for them to stop marginalizing people suffering from mental diseases.
3. Training & Education
ALAS organizes lectures, training programs and workshops with specialized mental health professionals, directed towards all kinds of health providers and even educators. To date, ALAS has been able to train nurses, social work students, and psychologists in "basic mental health care". The overarching purpose (and ALAS´ core goal) is to train every primary care physician to enable them to diagnose and treat basic mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety or psychosis using the mhGAP instrument. That way, patients will receive a proper assessment and treatment within their communities (and in their own language) by primary care professionals.
ALAS also established partnerships with Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and Stanford School of Medicine to create a rotational program in Community Psychiatry. Students from these universities are welcomed by ALAS for periods ranging between two weeks and two months, and they have to opportunity to take part in all our activities. Students learn how to work with communities, with real-life difficulties hindering the diagnostic that are rarely taught in schools (such as patients speaking only the local Mayan language)
4. Rehabilitation & Empowerment
From the beginning onward, ALAS works together with its patients and their families to push them to take initiative, re-introducing them as an active member of the society and improving their quality of life. Empowering our patients is also an excellent way for them to overcome their daily struggle and to gain independence through knowledge of their human rights and the nature of their disease. A group of patients and families have been getting together under ALAS' wings to create an independent association that enables them to lobby and demand their rights to authorities.
Moreover, ALAS believes that long-term recovery can only be achieved if the patients contributes to the economic welfare of their community. That is, empowerment through professional activities. This is why ALAS established a partnership X-Microfinance, a program from Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, that grants micro-loans to our patients and families.
Moreover, in order to ensure equality and respect of human rights, all of ALAS’s operations abide by four key principles
Equitable access to poor people
Every person with a mental disorder helped by ALAS must have an equitable access to health care regardless of the race, gender, age, or sexual orientation
Mental health strategies, actions and interventions for treatment, prevention and promotion must be compatible with Human Rights international conventions
To achieve the goals of Mental Health, an integral and coordinated approach with families, work, education and rehabilitation must be applied
Empowerment of people with mental disorders
People with mental disorders must be empowered to agglutinate and participate in the national Mental Health politics, actions and legislations