Stories of Hope

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.

Ddembe a 29 year old male, lives with his father, stepmother, and six brothers in a village in Wakiso district. He is the eldest of his siblings. When YouBelong started working with him, he had been in the hospital for two months for his third admission, which was unique as he had been rejected by his family who faced challenges managing his illness and providing for him.

YouBelong staff counseled Ddembe’s father so he could accept having his son back and support his road to recovery. We identified limited resources as one of the major challenges that the family was facing. His father is a sole provider for the family and was resistant to devote his resources towards supporting the ready-to-discharge son whom he perceived “less important”.

YouBelong staff (left) inspecting and interacting with Ddembe to explore how to improve and expand on his home garden

With this background, we worked with Ddembe and his family to develop a plan to enhance income generation in the family. We encouraged Ddembe to start growing onions on a small scale as he gets stronger and gains his father’s trust. This motivated his father who started training Ddembe in mechanical skills and now they work together in a garage. Ddembe currently earns a living to supplement the family’s income and has plans to sustain an independent life later. This has facilitated social inclusion and his community is more supportive. Ddembe repairs cars for some people in his home community that did not think he would live a meaningful life with mental illness.

Amidst scarce resources, YouBelong works with families to enhance income generation to get them into a better position to support their recovering family member. Most importantly, the teams also work with discharged persons to explore unused skills that they can use to earn a living.