Community based health services for a person with mental health challenges is lacking or inadequate in many areas of the country. NOUSPR encourages and facilitates group members to help each other through peer-to-peer support.
THE PATIENT GROUPS
What is a Patient Group?
NOUSPR has around 1570 members as of January 2018; all members are organized in one of our 13 patient groups that are spread all over the country. Each of 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 come together to carry out common activities. Each group has their own income generating activities which helps bring income to the groups. Most of the groups have sewing machines, and some sell their finished products like school uniforms to interested buyers. Others engage in farming and selling potatoes at the market. One group is involved in making and selling soap. The income is used in enabling patients travel to the hospital as well as for sustaining the group.
How does NOUSPR support the groups:
- Monthly visits to all the groups
- NOUSPR gives training in the groups and advocates for their rights
- NOUSPR supports the groups and their members with skills and materials to start income generating activities
- NOUSPR give startup capital to individuals and sub groups
- NOUSPR has donated sewing machines and other equipment to the groups
- Some of the groups are very well organized and acquired legal status as co-operatives. They have since received funding. Other groups receive various support for NOUSPR with the aim of supporting each to gain independent living.
How has the response been:
The feedback from the group members has been extremely positive. Each of the members says they now have a place to go where they feel welcome and loved.
THE PATIENT EXPERTS
What is a Patient Expert?
The Patient Experts are NOUSPR members who have experienced a mental health illness. Now recovered, they work as volunteers for NOUSPR by helping others with mental health problems. There are now 45 NOUSPR Patient Experts spread out across Rwanda. With support from SIND Mental Health (Denmark), the number and quality of PEs will grow-thanks to a capacity building initiative.
What does a Patient Expert do?
The Patient Experts work together in pairs and interact on a one on one basis with affected persons , with three PEs covering the respective district that they live in. Each District has one or two patient groups. Often the Patient experts get information from local leaders , a school teacher or health worker about a person with a mental health condition. The patient Experts then seek out the patient. They:
- Visit the patient and the affected family regularly
- Try to reconnect the patient with his or her family if the patient has been separated from the family
- Accompany patients to psychiatric facilities
- Counsel the patient and give them hope and comfort, often facilitating the affected person to tell one’s own story and how they were able to get well
- Motivate the patient to consistently take the prescribed medicine
- Counsel the patient´s family on how to cope with the mental illness and affected person’s new condition.
- Educate the patient and the patient´s family on how the patient can contribute positively to the household needs , focusing on the patient´s resources rather than the disability
- Motivate the patient to join the patient group
- Promote and safeguard human rights and the dignity of people with psycho social disabilities
How does NOUSPR support the Patient Experts?
First of all the Patient Experts is equipped with courage and a strong will to help others who is in a situation the PE ever faced. The person works as a volunteer, that is without a salary. The Patient Expert has only a little money to facilitate the patients and not being a health professional relies on only basic skills of counselling. The only facilitation a PE receives from NOUSPR is:
- A ‘’personal care kit’’ with little money for transport 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 meetings at NOUSPR 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 emotional 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.