Sylvester Katontoka

Founder and President of the Mental Health Users Network of Zambia (MHUNZA)

Sylvester Katontoka, consumer, founder and President of the Mental Health Users Network of Zambia (MHUNZA) was diagnosed with depression in 1996. In 1998, became involved in championing for the promotion and protecting of the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities. Since then i devoted my efforts in activism, with my main areas in fighting, stigma, discrimination and poverty among persons with psychosocial disabilities.

My involvement in the field of mental health helped me to acquire some insight in issues of mental health. Among them are Issues of treatment, care, support and rehabilitation. Have a University Certificate in Social Work from University of Zambia and obtained an International Diploma in Mental Health, Human Rights and Law from Indian Law Society, Pune-India. I have attended and spoken at a number of major conferences including those organized by World Health Organization, World Psychiatry Association, and World Federation for Mental Health, World Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, and the first Pan-African Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry Congress.

The Swiss Foundation for World Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization has chosen Mr. Sylvester Katontoka as the laureate of the Award 2008 for an “Outstanding achievement in the field of Mental Health Care”. He was appointed a Board Member of the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

In 2014, was awarded Ambassadorial Status for his leadership in mainstreaming disability issues in Zambia. Participated in a research and produced the First ever Mental Health Report “Mental Health and Human Rights in Zambia-2014”. The Report is proving evidence based data giving a better understanding of the bigger picture of human rights violations in Zambia. The Report has called for need of urgency to have a New Human rights based Mental Health Legislation.