Gede Foundation held its first round of 2017 Mental Health Camps (MHCs) in Mpape on Saturday, 28th of January 2017 at the Primary Healthcare Center. As always, there was an array of cases both old and new.
The tone of the MHC was quite different from the previous ones held in 2016. There were more cases of depression and anxiety (including other mood disorders) and less of the more common seizure disorders and mental retardation. Two cases in particular spring to mind. The first is a lady who lost her husband 5 years ago. When she heard about his death, she completely went into shock and it appeared as though she could not comprehend what had transpired. She began talking to herself, her blood pressure shot up and she was hospitalised. This, coupled with other symptoms she described led the Psychiatrist to conclude that she had had a psychotic break. She was hospitalised, treated and released. However, she had a relapse and was taken to a traditional healer. For some time now, she has been taking herbs to suppress her symptoms but they are still present. Her mood is always low, she talks to herself or completely out of turn. Furthermore, she has had suicidal ideation but has made no attempt yet. She was one of the first people to be enrolled in early April 2016, but had refused to attend any MHC. There was a similar case, with an elderly lady whose low mood and hopelessness was obvious even to the untrained eye. She sat down by herself and only spoke when spoken to. She’d been hospitalised several times but her symptoms are still present. She barely sleeps, is always tired and can hardly get out of bed. The Psychiatrist spoke to her at length and encouraged her to take her medication and to return for follow up.
Our regular readers will recall the schizophrenic lady that was chained to a pole in a church due to her wandering tendencies and erratic behaviour. After over a year of being chained and starting medication last year, she is now much better and back home with her family. Unfortunately, another woman has taken her place in the church and has been tied to a pole - with a similar condition. Efforts to reach the carer by our Community Based Volunteers (CBVs) proved futile. Another user that is doing a lot better is the young boy that used to have about 5 seizures daily. After starting medication, he is doing a lot better and as long as he remains compliant, he will remain seizure free. There were other old cases where users relapsed due to non-compliance. They were encouraged to continue with their medication but they pleaded for help from the Foundation as they could not afford the medication. It is important to mention here that the Foundation which is a BasicNeeds franchisee, gave livelihood training to some of the users and carers with the hope that they will be able to sustain themselves and be reintegrated into the communities.
The CBVs brought to the Foundation’s attention news of users who abuse drugs. There are 3 boys whose mother has reached out to the Foundation through the CBVs to enrol them. However, upon hearing this news, the children beat up their mother. The smallest of the boys is 9. One of them wanders the streets and is very violent and aggressive when approached or when he senses provocation - warranted or unwarranted. The CBVs will keep trying to enrol them into the BasicNeeds Project so they can have access to help.
The next MHC will be held in Mararaba. Please come back to the blog to read more!