In order to involve the community and end users fully into the implementation of Gede’s Community Mental Health Project, a number of participatory data collection activities will be conducted for baseline information gathering.
Gede concluded one of these activities through focus group discussions (FDGs) in the two project locations recently.
Participants, including users and carers within Mpape (6) and Mararaba (26), helped in gathering data around questions of health status, treatment, current capacity to work and sources of livelihood.
From responses received during the FDGs, people are more willing to (or perhaps able to) come out to support cases of epilepsy and drug abuse. As for cases less likely to be manageable in such meeting settings, they were represented by their carers who seem to be genuinely seeking help for them. Women also seem to be more willing to admit they really have mental health challenges and need help. While substance abuse, especially in Mararaba, seem to be a problem more associated with the young males. Most of the users (and their carers) have sought treatment from the hospitals but usually complement this treatment with traditional and faith based service providers.
Most respondents are unaware of the treatment pathways in Abuja and Nasarawa State and therefore resort in seeking treatment at health facilities far from their homes.
The barriers so far created by stigma and discrimination in seeking healthcare from those with mental illness will be reduced through the engagement of users and carers in discussions at different levels of the project.
Participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to share their experiences and burdens. They also promised to play their part in making sure that the project succeeds in improving their situation and creating a better community.