How group therapy is helping young Rwandans tackle mental health issues

Over 40 young Rwandans have been engaging in group therapy as a way to come together, share their experiences and work together to find solutions for their mental health problems.

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves sessions guided by a therapist and attended by several people.

Organized by the Mizero Care Organization- a local non-governmental organization, whose mission is to fight mental-based isolation, by providing psychotherapy services, the beneficiaries started their sessions on Friday January 15.

Speaking to The New Times, Francine Isabuwera, one of the beneficiaries who had attended the sessions said that the group therapy gives them a platform to discuss their daily lives issues, which affect their mental health.

Isabuwera who has multiple physical disabilities, and is one of the representatives of people with disabilities in Gasabo District stressed the importance of these sessions, especially from her own experience.

“People with disabilities have serious problems, from their condition to their families that sometimes reject us or simply the society that treats us differently,”

“It is important to have such a platform because here, we are able to share some of the painful stories, but also listen to others, for instance what I learnt here I will be able to share with others and help them as well’ she added.

Isabuwera added that these group therapies are effective, adding that more should be organised but for specific groups, meaning that people should be grouped according to their condition. 

“For instance I, as someone with disability, my issues are different from the issues of a person who has been abusing drugs, so we need specified group therapies,” she added.

Another beneficiary Pacifique Havugimana, who is a carpenter from Gasabo District, described the sessions as helpful and interactive.

Havugimana is a former street kid and together with other former street kids they came together to start a carpentry shop which he works for.

“Coming to this meeting I have learnt about stress, and how to healthily cope with it, rather than drinking or using drugs, and have also learnt to talk about our problems because it helps” he said.

“The most important thing is to have someone attentively listening to you when you are talking about your issues, it helps a lot, and by coming here and meeting people we share the same stories then they can advise you accordingly, from here we try to keep in touch and then we can check up on each other” he added.

Sylvestre Twizerimana, a psychologist from Mizero Care Organization who was conducting the sessions said that the beneficiaries are selected with the help of the district where they pick individuals who are struggling like former street kids, people from broken families, among others.

When asked how impactful these group therapy is compared to ordinary one-on-one session with a psychotherapist, Twizerimana said: “this is a support group, as people sit together and share their heart wounds, they are pouring out the painful emotions which brings them emotional release that helps with the healing process”

“In some cases it is better than sitting in front of a psychotherapist because their peers are the ones whom they share issues with and they feel like they are being understood more, because they can react and give feedback and maybe get guidance from their peers” he added.

“By doing this group therapy we hope to boost their confidence, restore hope in them so they can have the courage to keep going with their lives, because today young people are suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety, so speaking out about these issues is one crucial step to healing,” he added

Twizerimana added that so far they can testify that the group therapies have been impactful because they have hosted several others in the past to which have helped the beneficiaries a lot.

“We do the sessions as many times as we can and we hope to do more of this in the future, maybe host bigger numbers so we can help more people deal with their mental health” he added.

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Mizero Care Organization-2024

Mizero Care Organization-2024