A young mental health patient shared, ‘I was just at home all day with nothing to do before I came to the rehabilitation centre. I used to spend six to ten hours a day in internet gaming and was unwilling to do housework. I had no friends and didn’t want to get out at all.’
According to a family member, “When our son Ah Lin was ill, it was a particularly painful period during which we felt hopeless and helpless. We suffered from all kinds of emotions on our journey to seek medical help, so I felt both excited and ecstatic after entering the rehabilitation centre, as I saw hope there—lifesaving hope!
These experiences shared by a recovered member and his mother are not uncommon at all, as China is severely lacking in community mental rehabilitation services. Patients usually stay home after being discharged from the hospital, feeling that there is nowhere to go in life. This can easily lead to relapse of their mental health condition and hospital re-admission – which develops into a downward cycle with no apparent exit.
In recognition of this desperate need in the community, MSI worked with the local hospital to establish a community mental rehabilitation centre in 2012 (the year I joined MSI) to provide services including daytime rehabilitation and courses such as self-management and family mental health. The centre helped to pave work opportunities for recovered members to re-join their community. A lot of recovered members were very proud as they got their first ever job, and many opportunities were available for members to continue their education. Some members even studied up to the graduate degree level and then secured employment. Something else to be even more thankful for is that the mental rehabilitation centre gained international recognition for its services and has growing support. The rehabilitation centre model was successfully promoted to other cities to help more patients and their families.
Through rehabilitation and training, Ah Lin was able to develop his computing and interpersonal skills, which re-kindled his self-confidence in looking for work in his hometown. His future dreams were the same as other young people of his age: acquiring a job, getting married, and starting a family. Thankfully his dream became a reality two years later!
Our vision for mental rehabilitation service is that by grace, we can see people with mental illness and their family members live out fulfilling and hopeful lives that contribute to society.