Mental Health Uganda Launches Five-Year Strategic Plan To Fight Mental Illness In Gulu

Officials cut a ribbon to signify the launch of the five-year plan to combat mental illness in Gulu

BY ROMEO OKOT

GULU: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2021

The five-year strategic plan with support from the German Cooperation, GIZ and European Union focuses on building capacity of people and fighting mental health problems within the community.

Freddy Odong, project officer in-charge of suicide prevention project for Sheffield mental health partnership-Gulu and Omoro district, highlighted that the government’s support to people with mental disorders is not sufficient.

He said government’s support towards mental health accounts for about 1% of the total support which is limited to recruiting staff and for now most of the staff handling mental health in Gulu are volunteers.

“Therefore during the five years, the project will target the building of the capacity of communities, the community engagements on mental health illness treatment and changing cultural and religious beliefs and institutional practices on treating mental illness,” he said.

He further explained that mental health is caused by depression in humans which bring mood disorders, hopeless feeling and loss of interest.

He listed some of the underlying issues that lead to mental illness as land grabbing, loss of dear ones and disease infections like Covid-19, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.

He recommended early treatment of mental illness, saying that a patient with mental health problem can recover after six months of precise treatment.

Charles Sunday Amando, Psychical Clinical Officer at Gulu referral hospital, revealed that mental health problem are rampant in the area as a result of the prolonged Lord’s Resistance Army war in the northern region which brought a lot of depression in mindset.

He added that 90% of the mental disorders area result of drug abuse such as marijuana smoking, cigarette smoking, and excessive consumption of alcohol.

Amando disclosed that over 500 patients are recorded with mental health problems at Gulu referral hospital monthly.

He however highlighted that there is limited availability of drugs in the hospital which forces caretakers to buy drugs from private clinics at higher costs.

When left untreated for years, Amando said mental health patients may end up walking naked on the streets of Gulu.

He appealed to the local leaders to take measures to combat drug abuse and intensify community sensitization on stigma towards people living with mental health problems.

Gulu District health educator, William Onyai welcomed the intervention by the Mental Health Uganda and promised to give village health teams the task of sensitizing the community about mental health through door-to-door outreach.

Onyai added that the district will conduct training for the mental health workers on how to manage mental health in the hospital and he also called upon the authorities to supports this initiative to reduced mental health issues in the community.

Dr Felix Kaducu, the Gulu University Dean of students in the Faculty of Medicine, revealed that as a partner in implementing the five-year programme, the university will provide total support by training health workers on mental health issues.

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