With so few mental health resources in the countries we work in, we rely on community volunteers in our programmes to help us reach as many people who are suffering from mental illness as possible.
Volunteers work in their communities to make the lives of mentally ill people better. We train them to support other community workers and medical professionals in their jobs. This releases trained professionals from many duties and gives them time to tackle serious and more complex cases.
In Sri Lanka, community volunteers are a central part of our programme. They play a large role in follow-up care. Each volunteer is assigned a mentally ill person who they check up on, monitoring side effects and medication compliance. As well as this, community volunteers are also active in consultation meetings with mentally ill people and in promoting advocacy work. Many of the community volunteers in Sri Lanka are stabilised mentally ill people so they are keen to be deeply involved in the programme and have a special insight into the work.
In Accra, we’ve trained volunteers to support our Community Psychiatric Nurses. These volunteers help the Community Psychiatric Nurses in their day-to-day activities in treating mentally ill people. The scheme as proved very successful.
As well as creating and developing new services, we help strengthen existing ones. In Uganda, we have used the existing network of Village Health Teams to help with mental health treatment. These are made up of people who are already trained in working with reproductive health, child health and nutrition. We trained them to also include mental health care in the villages they work in. They are trained to identify mental illnesses, follow-up those who are receiving treatment and record relapses and side-effects. The Village Health Teams then report their findings to doctors and nurses who take action if necessary, meaning that more and more mentally ill people get the help they so desperately need.
The Village Health Teams are also very important in making the first few steps towards reducing stigma as they can see first-hand within their own communities that mentally ill people can be successfully treated and achieve a normal life again. They then help us convince others that mentally ill people are human beings too and have rights that must be respected.
The provision of bicycles for the Village Health Teams has helped to double the amount of people that some workers can see. However, there’s still many more Village Health Teams who need our help to increase the amount of people they can make a difference to.
to donate now...
> > > > > >