Two separate incidents at the weekend in Buhweju and Soroti districts raise the red flag on mental health and the dire need for counselling services across the country.In Kyerwa Village, B. Kyerwa Village, Bwoga Parish, Rwengo Sub-county in Buhweju District, Greater Bushenyi regional police spokesperson Martial Tumusiime said John Muhereza, a former convict, hacked to death three family members as they slept.
It was reported that Muhereza, who was released from jail on December 27, committed the act in revenge against the family for having testified in court two years ago in a case of assault against him. It is also unfortunate that Muhereza was killed by a mob as the village chairperson took him to police.
In a separate incident, a Cpl Richard Okidi, a police officer at Soroti barracks, at the weekend fired several live bullets into his house after he suspected his colleague of having sexual intercourse with his wife.
There have also been various reports of rising cases of suicide, rape, and violence, among others, across the country.
These incidents should remind us of the danger of mental illness and poor anger management whether in our homes, workplaces or in society in general.
Dr David Basangwa, the Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital executive director, in June last year said mental illness was on the rise due to lack of mental services at community health centres. “The number of patients is continuously increasing every other year. Three years ago, we had about 650 patients but as of now, we have more than 900 patients yet the official capacity is supposed to be 550 patients,” he said.
Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect one’s mood, thinking, and behaviour. These include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, addictive behaviours, and bipolar disorder, among others.
While marking the World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2014, the World Health Organisation said mental illness begins by the age of 14 although most cases go undetected and untreated. If we take a moment and look at the environment around us, there are people struggling to cope with abusive relationships, loss or lack of jobs, and trauma. There are people battling disease, struggling financially, or have no peace. The channels of mental illness are as varied as possible.
We think – and strongly so – that as a country with one of the youngest population in the world, the government should take mental health very seriously. Schools, workplaces, and communities should explore the services of counsellors in a bid to manage people’s anger management, mood and behaviour. Everyone ought to be aware of the condition and ways of overcoming it.
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