Mental Health in Uganda

Mental Health in Uganda

We recently rescued a mentally ill mother from the streets of Mbale. She has been living rough on these village streets for so many years. No one knows anything about her apart from her first name. We shall call her Lilly.

Lilly has faced untold abuse on the streets of Mbale, she has been brutalized and raped countless times by some local people. Miraculously besides suffering from mental health issues, she has a clean bill of health. She has escaped sexually transmitted diseases. Last year she fell pregnant from one of the rape episodes. Unfortunately, even while pregnant, she was raped countless times.

We have found that some parts of society in Uganda think a mentally ill person has no rights at all. Mentally ill people are often treated as angry dirty animals. Left at the mercy of society, you will often find them at the market dump scavenging for food with the village stray animals.

Mental illness is often attributed to demon possession and witchcraft. As such people will avoid the sufferer, while others will take advantage of their vulnerability. It’s not unheard of to see people throw stones at a mentally ill person like they are hitting a scary wild animal. Often times when they fight back, they are confronted by mob justice.

On occasion, city authorities have rounded up mentally ill people and thrown them in Butaabika mental hospital, when a special dignitary is expected to visit the country. Mental health care is expensive in Uganda. For many of the people rounded up, this is the only time they receive some conventional treatment. However this never lasts, many are released back to the streets once the coast is clear.

Conventional mental health treatment is often a luxury for the rich. Most people self-diagnose and try all sorts of herbs and animal sacrifices with traditional healers.

Lilly, she is now safe from all this barbaric treatment. She’s now in CNFOUG care. She’s free from the street life and receiving mental health treatment at Butaabika mental hospital. By the grace of God she carried her baby to full term and gave birth to a healthy child. We placed her child with a safe foster family until Lilly gains her health back.

There are so many Lilly’s on the streets of Uganda, roaming the streets with their babies. We cannot reach them all by ourselves.

We need YOU to get help for these vulnerable children and their mothers. We are keeping our faith.

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