Experts call for mental health education in schools

Several Ugandans tend to undermine their mental break-downs. PHOTO | FILE | COURTESY 

As Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Mental Health Day yesterday, experts have urged the government to implement mental health education in schools.

Mr Vincent Mujune, a mental health counsellor with Strong Minds Uganda, a social enterprise that treats depression in low-income women and adolescents, said many students across the country are facing challenges related to mental health problems.

“We have learnt from countless experiences that many suicide cases are happening among school-going children and this is an indication that the care system that supports children is not sufficient,” Mr Mujune said.

            Prioritise mental health

He said the Parliamentary Committee on Education can task the National Curriculum Development Centre to embark on the process of setting up guidelines for how schools can embrace counselling and mental care. 

He said mental healthcare has mostly been prioritised in a few health centres in the country, leaving many struggling. 

This year’s day was commemorated under the theme, “Make Mental Health and Wellbeing for All a Global Priority”.

Mr Mujune said among adolescents, mental health is on the rise, accounting for about 16 percent growth. 

The Strong Minds Uganda head of communication and advocacy, Ms Charlotte Oloya, said last year, the organisation treated more than 160,000 cases of depression among women and adolescents.
She said the number is on an increase, add and that this year from January to October, 55,000 cases have been registered.
Ms Oloya attributed the rising cases to Covid-19 effects where people lost their loved ones, jobs, and businesses and the current high cost of living that has left many people hopeless.
During the outreach, in Kalerwe market yesterday, a group of experts from the organisation sensitised residents about the dangers of depression.

“We are in this market to raise awareness about depression and today, we want to spread the message to the women, men, and adolescents that might be struggling with depression. We want to ensure that we eradicate depression from the country,” Ms Oloya said.