On 23rd February around a hundred people gathered at Sorby House to review the new recovery guide for mental health users from the Somali Mental Health Project (MAAN).
The recovery folder was originally developed for patients leaving hospital after treatment. Now, it has been adapted to suit the needs of the Somali community. It’s not just translation but addresses a different cultural approach to mental illness and recovery.
Maan's Saeed Abdi tells us more about the importance of the recovery folder.
Story: Saeed Abdi
This story is about recovery. We hear a lot about mental health and mental illness, about “well-ness”, wellbeing and early intervention which are all important parts of the human health journey. In this folder, we address the recovery bridge in the journey to be travelled from illness to wellness.
The recovery period is important as there is no shortcut to instant wellness. It is a time for gathering strength and growing health. It is about properly managing gains and applying them for the whole person's health, independence and dignity.
It is like a broken arm when plaster is removed – the bone is mended and healed but you cannot immediately start using that arm.
The rationale behind the folder is to place the person at the centre of decision-making in their life. This is particularly important as it is the practice in the Somali culture to remove responsibility from the service user and exclude them from the decision-making process in their affairs. In everyday life, but especially in the presence of professionals, it is quite common to find patients, carers and relatives struck by the doctor or other professionals interviewing the “mad person who does not know anything” and asking them all the questions. A typical reaction from a carer is “why is he/she talking to this person? We are here and we know what the problems and issues are!”
As usual in the rich poetic Somali culture there is a proverb which covers each situation. This one says “Nin Waalan, tolkiis baa u miyir qaba,” meaning: “For an insane man, his kin are sane.” But then one might forget the one which says “nin buka boqol u tali,” which means a sick person has a hundred advisers, in the relatives and friends circle who would be telling them what is ‘best’ for them. This is precisely the reason the recovery folder is so important; it is about keeping the service user in control.