10 Jan 2019

Meet Discharged Patients

Three courageous women who suffer from mental illness speak about their recovery at the Mental Health Unit of the St Benedict Menni Health Center in Monrovia, Liberia.

B.Y. is a 50-year-old woman. She was one of our first admitted patients. On her last monthly follow up, she arrived on time, well groomed and dressed, with her continuous smile and her hair tied. She is one of the many Liberians who still suffer the consequences of the war and the Ebola outbreak, and she is also affected by Schizophrenia.

However, these are not the only circumstances keeping her from being stabilised: loneliness and the lack of attention from her family are also contributing to her unhappiness and her relapses. She spent three months with us, and as soon as we realised her family was not supporting her, we started to work with her family and her community.  Now, after 9 months, she is stable, her family is more aware of her condition and needs, and she is teaching in a primary school in her community.

How long did you spend in the Step Down Unit?

I came in November 2017, I left in February, that makes three months. I have been discharged for 9 months.

How has your life changed after being treated here?

Life has made me more confident of myself since I have been treated here; I trust the Catholic sisters. I pray this relationship last, even though I am Episcopalian. The treatment I have been receiving agrees with me, and I don’t have any more side effects like before.

What did you enjoy the most while you were at the St Benedict’s Menni?

I enjoyed reading novels, the food and all the activities in the Unit, especially the music therapy and the walks around the community. My best and sincere thanks and appreciation to all the staff.

What do you do now for a living?

I am a teacher in a community school. In the future, I would like to go to my big sister in America.

What would you say to all the women in Liberia who are going through a difficult time due to mental illness?

Get close to the creator, the maker, this is not only a woman thing. I would tell everyone to pray and trust in God, but also “take your medicine for yourself, occupy your time, feel useful.” For those who are living stigma, they should take courage, life is just a stage and it will pass away.

What can we do to make things better?

You can place a fan in every room, or just put it in my bed (she laughed). I like cold places.


L.G. is a 45-year-old woman with paranoid schizophrenia. She was one of our first admitted patients. In her relapses, she usually believes that someone wants to chase and kill her, so she runs away from the family home to live in the streets.

She used to sleep in the treetops to prevent men from abusing her and people from throwing stones at her despite the fact that trees are infested with red ants, whose sting is very painful. She remembers people calling her “crazy woman” and shouting at her to stay away from them.

After her stay at the Mental Health Centre with us, she has been stable for 9 months, and she is grateful for having the life she has always wanted, especially for being able to take care of her son.

How long did you spend in the Step Down Unit?

Three months. I have been discharged for 9 months.

How has your life changed after being treated here?

Before I used to run away from the house, and go from place to place.

What did you enjoy the most while you were at the centre?

I enjoyed the activities, especially doing exercise and baking. I’d love to say thank you to the social workers, the nurses, the doctor and the cook.

What do you do now for a living?

Now I take care of the house, washing, cleaning… and of my son.

What would you like to do in the near future?

I would like to get married and get my home.

What would you say to all the women in Liberia who are going through a difficult time due to mental illness?

I would tell them to come to the Step Down Unit, so they can heal. Don’t mind the rest of the people and move forward.

What can we do to make things better?

Talk more to people about mental illness.


M. K. is a 25-year-old woman. She lives in the chaotic centre of Monrovia, with her mother and her 8-year-old son. She had been living on the streets since she left her family house, at the age of 13, where she got involved with prostitution to survive. Living in the ghetto and the slums made her vulnerable to drugs and STD.

Due to substance abuse, she got mentally sick and everyone she used to call “friends” abandoned and rejected her. Her beloved mother took care of her and she was brought to our Unit. Two months later, she is recovering the life she deserves as a human. She is now going to night school and selling clothes in the market in the morning.

To all the women in Liberia who are going through a difficult time due to mental illness, I would tell them to keep courage and take their medication, to ignore those who are stigmatising them. Everything will be fine in the end.

How long did you spend in the Step Down Unit?

Two months, from July to August 2018. I have been discharged for three months.

How has your life changed after being treated here?

I am not like I used to be before; I don’t want to go back to where I was.

What did you enjoy the most while you were at the St Benedict’s Menni?

Being with my new friends, which I met in the same Unit, and how I was taken care of by the staff. I want to tell them thanks for the part they played in my life. I will tell them thanks over and over.

What do you do now for a living?

I am selling women clothes around Monrovia’s streets.

What would you like to do in the near future?

I would like to get married and increase my family.

What can we do to make things better?

More sports apart of the current activities.