A Group Story: The Impact of Agribusiness Training to Aid Recovery

Personal Stories of Living with Mental Illness in Kenya

Recovery for mental health disorders is not complete without economic empowerment. AMPATH works with community support groups to impart knowledge and skills to help improve members’ livelihoods and successfully walk the journey to recovery.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, weekly meeting attendance at community substance abuse groups supported by AMPATH suffered as people, especially those of low socioeconomic status who make up most of the groups’ membership, focused on earning a living. The financial stress also led some patients in recovery to relapse. 

One of the interventions that has been successful in maintaining these community groups is agribusiness. Group members pool together resources and initiate common agricultural and table banking projects that help maintain group attendance, improve livelihoods, and mitigate some of the precursors to members’ addictions. 

One initiative involved five support groups with 80 members to start crop farming of coriander leaves (cilantro), kale, spinach, and carrots. Members were trained in how to prepare, plant, and manage the crops. To keep members engaged and successful, members were mentored on crop rotation for soil health and consistent income. Members were enthusiastic as they began harvesting the crops with many members planning to grow them on their personal farms. 

A group member said, “Lack of constant income made me sink deeper into substance abuse. I had a family to take care of and bills to pay with no income…I am grateful today. From my group’s savings, I managed to hire land and together with my wife are doing vegetables. Carrot farming has kept me busy and makes me earn on a daily basis.”

With the growing prevalence of mental illness among some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, the Astellas Global Health Foundation supports initiatives to improve access to mental healthcare diagnosis and treatment services for patients and caregivers in low- and middle-income countries. Since 2018, the Foundation has partnered with the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), through the Indiana University Center for Global Health Equity and in partnership with Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, to expand mental health services and education to more than 500,000 people in Western Kenya. Here are just a few stories of people who have been reached.

To further extend this impact, the Foundation is running its first global employee fundraising campaign in June and July 2024 to support people in Kenya with mental illness. Every dollar donated helps patients with skills-building and income-generating activities to rebuild their lives after successful therapy in AMPATH’s projects.

AMPATH is a partnership among Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, a global network of academic health centers led by Indiana University, and the Kenyan Government. The AMPATH mission is “to improve the health of people in underserved communities by working in partnership with academic health centers, ministries of health and others to build public sector health systems and promote well-being.” Learn more about the incredible impact AMPATH is making in Kenya on its website.

*All names have been changed.