• Patient Experts from all over the country gathered at the NOUSPR office in Kigali

PEER SUPPORT

The community based health service for persons with a mental health condition is not present in many areas of the country, therefore NOUSPR encourage the members to help each other through peer-to-peer support.

 

THE PATIENT GROUPS

What is a Patient Group: NOUSPR has arround 1350 members; all members are organized in one of our 13 patient groups that are spread all over the country. The patient groups has an organizational structure, with a leader, a secretary and a treasurer. To see the list of our patient groups, click here

What do the patient groups do: The group is a shelter and a social gathering place for persons with a mental illness. The members support each other and join in on common activities. Each group has their own activities to bring income to the groups. Most of the groups have sawing machines, and some are selling school uniforms for the kids in the districts. Others are farming and selling potatoes at the marked. One groups is making and selling soap. The income is used for helping patients to the hospital and sustaining the group.

How does NOUSPR support the groups:

  • Monthly visits to all the groups
  • NOUSPR gives training in the groups and advocate on their rights
  • NOUSPR support the groups and its members with skills and materials to manage the income generating activities
  • NOUSPR give starter kits to individuals and sub groups
  • NOUSPR has donated sawing machines and other equipment to the groups
  • Some of the groups are very well organized, and have received funding and status as co-operatives. The other groups receive more support for NOUSPR with the aim for them all to become independent.

How has the response been: The feedback from the group members has only been positive. The members say they now have a place to go where they are invited and where they feel loved.

 

THE PATIENT EXPERTS

What is a patient expert: The Patient Experts are NOUSPR members who have experienced a Mental Health Illness. They work as volunteers for NOUSPR by helping others with a mental health problems. There are now 40 NOUSRP Patient Experts spread out in Rwanda.

What does a patient Expert do: The Patient Experts work together two and two and cover the district that they live in, and the patient groups. Often they hear a rumor about a person with a mental health condition or local leaders or others that know of them contact them. The patient Experts then seek out the patient. They:

  • Visit the patient and its family regularly
  • Try to reconnect the patient with his or her family when they are no longer together
  • Accompany patients to psychiatric facilities
  • Counsel the patient and give them hope and comfort, often by telling his or her own story and how they were able to get well
  • Motivate the patient to take the medicine
  • Counsel the patient´s family on how to cope with the mental illness and the persons with psychosocial disability
  • Educate the patient and the patient´s family on how the patient can contribute in the house and how to focus on the patient´s resourses rather than the disability
  • Motivate the patient to join the patient group
  • Promote and safeguard human rights and the dignity of people with psychosocial disabilities

How does NOUSPR support the Patient Experts: First of all the Patient Experts are equipped with courage and a strong will to help others. They work as volunteers, and get no salary. They have little money to help the patients and they are not health professionals. The help they get from NOUSPR is:

  • A ‘’personal care kits’’ with little money for transport for them to get to the homes of people who may have got mental relapse and to take them to the Hospital
  • Onsite trainings to improve their performance and skills in dealing with the field challenges.
  • Monthly meeting at the NOUSPR office which focuses on issues that may have emerged during their fieldwork and are compiled in the field reports.

How has the response been: Today there is a noticeable physical and moral difference between those who have been with the Patient Expert and those who have not. Talking about their past experience, and advising people on how they should be treated brings hope and courage to the people they help.