Mental sickness on rise among children - Official

Tuesday December 3 2019

A delegation from Kenya High Commission

A delegation from Kenya High Commission led by Mr Kiema Kilonzo (centre) chat with patients at Butabiika National Referral Hospital in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA 


The number of children with mental illness below 10 years is on the rise.

This was revealed by the deputy executive director of Butabika National Referral Hospital, Dr Juliet Nakku, during a visit by Kenya High Commissioner to Uganda Kiema Kilonzo yesterday.

Dr Nakku said the rising cases of mental illness have been attributed to drug and narcotics use, stress and poverty in homes.
“At first people did not believe that children below 10 years could become mentally sick but the number of those who have been admitted has risen from 15 five years ago to 41 currently,” she said.

Ms Nakku said research has shown that children below 10 years are prone to mental illness because they are naïve and easily get influenced.
She advised parents to take care of their children in order to prevent mental illness.

The specialist in mental illness also warned the public against discriminating mentally sick children.
Currently Uganda has 13 upcountry mental hospitals with Butabika having a capacity of 550 beds while other hospitals have 30 to 40 beds.
Mr Kilonzo said mentally ill children should not give up with life since they can recover after treatment.

“You children are not cursed, you should just believe in your selves and you can become important people in future,” he told a said.


Worrying trend
In June, health experts from Butabika raised a concern over increasing cases of mental health disorders among the youth.
Dr David Basangwa, the institution’s executive director, said due to lack of mental services at many community health centres, the number of cases had increased at Butabika.
“The number of patients is continuously rising. Three years ago, we had about 650 patients but as of now, we have more than 900 patients yet the official capacity is 550 patients,” he said.