Access to mental health services improves families’ wellbeing
March 09, 2020
YouBelongHome (YBH) team member: “Hallo “Semugera”, thank you for coming for your review, how is your family doing?”
“Semugera”: “We are fine thank you. Now that I do not miss out on my monthly medication anymore, I am able to fend for my wife and children. The little ones attend school without any disturbances. Now I am also able to wake up everyday and go to the gardens to cultivate food for my family. I still get those voices in my head but they do not bother me that much because they are reducing with medication. I have learnt how to deal with them like you taught me and this does not stop me from doing my daily activities………”. He spoke while eagerly waiting in the line for his name to be called to receive his medication. This was a conversation I had with Semugera when he attended his monthly review at Maganjo Health Centre II.
“Semugera” is a peasant farmer. He lives with his family in one of the remote villages at the borders of Wakiso district. He underwent the 14 weeks YouBelongHome pre and post discharge program and he was then referred to his local health centre for follow up. At the time of assessment, Semugera’s wife informed the YouBelongHome team that when Semugera gets a relapse and is admitted to hospital, life at home becomes very difficult. The children get suspended from school because she is not able to raise enough school fees for them. Sometimes they cannot afford a meal a day.
Using the pre discharge assessment tool, the YBH team identified poor medication adherence as one of the causes of relapse. “Semugera” had challenges with maintaining his monthly doses of antipsychotics because it was costly for him to travel to Butabika hospital every month for medication refills.
The YouBelong team informed the family about a health centre where Semugera could get mental health services without having to travel longer distances. The team introduced them to the focal mental health worker at the centre; now Semugera can make any inquiries with the mental health worker about his health.
YouBelong creates awareness for the mental health services provided at primary health care centres. It also works to change community attitudes towards seeking mental health services provided at these centres, and also by training health workers in mental health, aims to ensure continuity of care. Access to mental health services helps people battling with mental illness to maintain recovery and hence contribute to their families’ wellbeing.