Stories of Hope

Involvement of the YouBelong team in the World Mental Health Day event

December 18, 2019

On 08th November 2019, YouBelong Uganda team participated in a celebration of World Mental Health Day in the Kyaka II refugee settlement center located in Mubende district, some seven hours drive from Kampala. Our team travelled on the YouBelong bus and were focussed on showing solidarity with people suffering from severe mental illness, and advocating for stigma reduction and adequate services for the mental health sector, in Uganda.


The day was celebrated under the theme “Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention”. The celebrations were hosted by American Refugee Committee (ARC) in partnership with TPO, African Humanitarian Action, War Child Holland, Humanity and Inclusion, World Vision, FCA, Good neighbours and UNHCR. The YouBelong team participated in a 5km march with other organisations working with people with mental disorders, and their families. The march aimed to create advocacy against mental health stigma. The guest of honour was Dr.Olaro Charles, Director Health Services (clinical and community) accompanied by Dr Lukwata Hafsa – Ag Assistant Commissioner Mental health.

The team also distributed brochures and fliers explaining the YouBelongHOME model of community mental health care. The YouBelong team also got an opportunity to interact with other organisations in the mental health sector.


Revived hope for income generation

December 17, 2019

‘’Vie’s’’ most significant concern prior to her hospital discharge was how she will be able to raise money to support herself and her one year old son. She was abandoned by her husband when she developed her second episode of mental illness. She has been living with bipolar affective disorder for three years. The ability to generate income was identified as a big part of her recovery journey as the YouBelongHOME team prepared her for discharge from hospital. Living with her mother and son, the family’s living conditions were an issue of concern. The family struggles to find food and raise money for other family needs including meeting Vie’s scheduled hospital review appointments. ‘‘my family is really poor, I am not able to get any job and I do not have money to start some activity; I wish I could get back my old life, I was living a very happy life before mental illness. I was sustaining a small business (weaving baskets, mats and table cloths’’. The second episode of mental illness resulted into the loss of crafts making skills and the loss of hope of getting another income generating activity. The long period of hospitalization during her second admission led to loss of her weaving skills.

While working with Vie in the hospital, the YouBelongHOME team built her hope to re awaken her weaving skills. When the team returned her home, she was hopeful and motivated to try to revive her skills in weaving baskets, mats and table cloths for income generation. Through different interactions, the YouBelongHOME team facilitated a discussion with Vie and her mother to identify family resources that can be utilized to buy raw materials for her craft work which yielded good results. She was also able to innovatively learn how to fry chapattis and doughnuts to enhance her income. Vie currently has three sources of income that supplement the family’s subsistence farming. This has built her confidence, a sense of agency and has put her in a stronger position to be supported by family and community members. She contributes to her local community life and lives a happier life. This has also motivated her towards maintaining her mental health recovery.

Hope — essential for recovery

December 17, 2019

‘’My son has been sick for many years now. Since the day he got his first episode of mental illness, our family has been ridiculed by many community members. They think that I committed adultery and that is why God punished me by giving me a child who has mental illness. It hurts so much that I am treated this way’’, Dodo’s father sadly told the YouBelongHOME team during our visit to his family. Dodo’s father had left him in the mental hospital for over a year. He said that he wanted Dodo to be there for the rest of his life.

“I feel relieved when he is in the hospital……..if community members do not see him around then they do not have much to talk about. Let him stay there; at least I am convinced that he is not going to be of any good when he comes back home”.

Dodo’s father had lost hope in him. Certainly, Dodo felt the same way, as he felt useless and looked down on himself.

When Dodo was returned home, his father was still sceptical of whether he would recover. The YouBelongHOME team educated him about the illness and how to support Dodo to recovery. We also encouraged Dodo to continue with his medication following the support sessions aimed at building hope, that the team engaged with him in the hospital.

It is amazing how much Dodo has changed after the YouBelongHOME process. He participates actively in the mosque. His father said that he is the Mu’azzin of their mosque and the Muslim community likes him so much. He participates actively in his community life and this has brought a lot of hope to him and his family.

“No one can tell that I was the “mad” man who walked on the streets naked”, Dodo mumbled with a beaming facing.

Carers struggle to find answers to the questions they have about the mental illness that their loved ones are battling with. The stigma from the community subjects them to a subjective burden and leads to many people experiencing severe mental illness to be abandoned in mental institutions. The YouBelongHOME team educates, guides and encourages, and empowers families through the challenges they face.

YouBelong participates in a walk to promote mental health wellbeing

October 21, 2019

On Saturday, October 19, YouBelong Uganda team members participated in a walk near Luzira, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, to promote mental health wellbeing. The walk organised by Strides of Hope. In attendance were Dr Hafusa Luswata as the guest of honour, community leaders – Nakawa division, Butabika hospital staff, students from Butabika nursing school, and Bishop Cipriano Kihangire, along with other organisations offering mental health services. The walk started at 10:30 am and ended at 12:40 pm, and after the walk other programs started and ended at 2:00 pm.

Helping families gain an understanding of mental illness

August 15, 2018

The YouBelong team travelled  to a village in the Wakiso district in Uganda to meet “Lucky’s” mother, who shifted away from her husband and children to take care of her 32 year-old daughter, diagnosed with chronic psychosis in 2000.

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YouBelong works with service users and their families to create awareness about their rights and entitlements.

July 11, 2018

YouBelong connects service users and their families to community resources including the police and the Local Councils so they are able to report injustice.

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Income generation for people with mental illness

July 11, 2018

Approximately 95% of the people living with severe mental illness that the YouBelong Home programme has so far re-integrated into their communities find it challenging to earn income for daily living. Reasons can include social stigma, lack of capital for investment, and the effects mental illness has had on their functionality.

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Care for families supporting a member with severe mental illness

July 11, 2018

YouBelong Uganda works to counsel families that are going through difficulties caused by mental illness because they may end up traumatized and thereby affect the recovery of the family member.

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Working with churches to improve care for people with mental illness

June 14, 2018

“Nabwire” is a 30 year old female from the Wakiso district of Uganda living with chronic psychosis. She comes from a nuclear family that has a strong belief in God. While carrying out a service user’s assessment, we learned that Nabwire had been kept in chains for two months before she was brought to the mental hospital.

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Empowering families to support those with mental illness

June 14, 2018

YouBelong empowers families with a range of skills including communication, problem solving, and crisis management skills to enable family members to focus on the strengths of the member who is mentally ill and support him or her to live a productive and fulfilling life.

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