Diagnosed with schizophrenia (1991) set off a journey that exposed Charlene to the realities of a mental health care system that was failing service users and of a society who perceived them as the population group not entitled to dignity, equality, human rights or citizenship. She spent four years in psychiatric hospitals experiencing abuse. Refusing to accept this as the fate of persons with mental health conditions was the inspiration that lead to her passion and career in mental health. Charlene got involved in the MGMH through Prof. Vikram Patel. Charlene was appointed Principal Coordinator of MGMH in 2017. The SA Federation for Mental Health as the Secretariat supports her in her role. The MGMH was the architect of a new journey that connected Charlene to a global network of people and organisations, all passionate about mental health. The knowledge and experience she obtained, orchestrated the establishment of the Global Mental Health Peer Network (GMHPN) founded by Charlene. The MGMH and GMHPN remain in association, forging a stronger relationship between the MGMH and persons with lived experience. The MGMH has been instrumental in introducing Charlene to global mental health, affording her international recognition and national and international awards for her work.
The MGMH is a virtual network of individuals and institutions that aim to improve services for people living with mental health problems and disorders worldwide. Two principles are fundamental: scientific evidence and human rights. Membership consists of over 220 institutions and over 15,000 individuals. Members include individuals and families affected by mental health problems, health care providers, professionals, activists, decision makers and researchers. Through the MGMH, members are able to network, share knowledge and experience, joining national and international campaigning, access news updates and participate in a biennial summit. The MGMH was the catalyst for the establishment of the Global Mental Health Peer Network.