Mental illness is one of those topics ignored especially in the African community yet it has been responsible for the death of 800,000 people per year. When left untreated it leads to psychological issues like depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), violence, dementia and suicide. In Uganda, if one shows any mental health disorder, they will be termed as bewitched, cursed or pretending.
Solange, 35, a single mother of 3 from Rwanda who lives in Oruchinga R/S in Michinga village has had her fair share of scorning from the community because of her mental health. Often times, her village members wanted her banned from the community accusing her of pretending to be ill just to get away with her abusive nature and violent ways.
She was later diagnosed with mental illness after monitoring by a Psychosocial Counselor and Psychiatric nurse when taken to Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in the mental department.
Since her condition was unstable, HIJRA Protection team decided to take her children away from her and put them under the foster care arrangement. She had started preparing stones and sand for them as food, she would talk to herself during the night and was aggressive towards her neighbors.
The psychiatric nurse advised HIJRA Psychosocial Counselor Kahira Joram to help her with taking her medicine on a daily basis so that she wouldn’t take an under or over dose as she had no one to help her.
Due to the daily monitoring, Solange is now able to prepare her own meals, bathe on a daily basis and even participate in a conversation with the visitors of which all this was not common before. HIJRA community services also constructed for her a two bedroomed house where she is now residing.
“What makes me happy as a counselor is that she is now requesting for a hoe so that she can also start cultivating as others because she no longer wants to depend on the Ration food and support from the community services inform of hot meals. Psychiatric Nurse has approved her request of supporting her with a hoe which shows the sign of improvement” says Joram