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The ‘Step Down’ Mental Health Unit at our centre in Monrovia (Liberia) recently introduced a new initiative to empower women living with mental illness. The project, called the “Empowerment and Professional Development Programme”, was launched in collaboration with Sisters Hospitallers’ Aita Menni Hospital in Mondragón (Spain) and the Benedict Menni Foundation.
The programme was designed in response to the increased number of relapses among patients without access to financial support once they are discharged from the unit. Moreover, those in charge of the project realised that rehabilitation alone was insufficient to help patients develop the necessary skills to start a business, making their independence and economic self sufficiency impossible.
The goal, therefore, is to strengthen the socioeconomic integration of people living with mental illnesses into society, while at the same time, reducing relapses among former patients and promoting the longevity of their recovery through micro-business financing.
The initiative is specially designed for patients who have already been discharged from the centre, but who continue with the final stage of recovery from home. This project, which includes treatment, advice, monitoring, and a start-up micro-loan, allows participants to manage their own micro-businesses while learning to manage aspects related to supply, budget, costs, and customers.
The programme, which was launched in January 2022, has already selected 70 candidates to take part this year, for which
the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council (Basque Country, Spain) has allocated a budget of $7,000.
The first four patients selected have already started running their own micro-businesses in the food industry (selling biscuits, beverages, and bread) and selling mosquito repellent locally.
The centre’s Social Workers are committed to the development of these businesses, supporting candidates in their negotiations with suppliers and offering decision-making advice.
This Mental Health Unit combines medical treatment with rehabilitation activities to promote the social reintegration of patients. After being discharged, patients continue to visit the centre to receive personalised treatment to promote their full rehabilitation from home.