The National Mental Health Center in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, recently partnered with LDS Charities (also called Deseret International Charities in Mongolia) to bring greater healing and recovery to its patients.
To help patients recover and transition back into everyday life, the National Mental Health Center incorporates traditional living and gardening into a treatment program called the Ger Project. Located on Health Center property, the Ger Project facility gives patients an opportunity to live independently in traditional homes but under supervision by and while receiving treatment from Health Center staff. This helps facilitate a smoother transition for the patients as they return home.
To strengthen the impact of this treatment program, the Health Center decided to try to obtain a greenhouse because they knew it would extend the patients’ gardening season and increase their harvest. LDS Charities helped the Health Center obtain materials for a greenhouse as well as a watering system, plants, and tools. Ger Project staff, patients, and project advisers then worked together to build the greenhouse and install the watering system.
The Ger Project housing accommodates approximately 36 patients at a time. As patients’ health improves and they are able to return home, new patients are invited to participate in the program, resulting in a rotation of about 100 patients a year.
As they participate in the project, patients gain therapeutic and physical benefits by performing meaningful work in a variety of areas. This work also helps them develop valuable life skills and form healthy relationships with others. Dr. Yansanjav Sanpilth, director of the Ger Project, explains that active work projects like this help patients recover more quickly.
Thanks to the greenhouse, patients are currently growing a bountiful harvest of cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. Ger Project staff help patients to incorporate the fresh produce into meals and to sell the excess. Proceeds from these sales help sustain their gardening efforts. More important, however, is that this project has increased the opportunity for patients to participate in meaningful work that will help them heal and enjoy improved health when they return home and to learn valuable skills that they can use throughout their lives.