Ministry asks partners to support mental health in schools

The Minister of State for Higher Education,  Mr John Chrysostom Muyingo, has asked development partners to train teachers and counsellors to support people with mental illnesses in schools and other related illnesses to prevent cases from escalating.
“Recently, we have seen many cases of suicides in schools across the country and it is greatly attributed to mental health. We have witnessed increasing cases of strikes and burning of education institutions as a result of mental issues among learners,” Mr Muyingo said in a statement read for him by the commissioner for health training education in the Ministry of Education, Dr Safina Musene on Wednesday.

This was during the launch of a mental health campaign in Kampala under the theme, “Make mental health and well-being for all a priority in schools and community”.
“Covid-19 increased the high dependency and poverty levels. I am concerned that stress-related incidences will continue to increase. Stakeholders should work together to promote mental health and psycho-social support among learners at school, individuals and families,” Mr Muyingo said.
He said nearly two million people in the country suffer from mental illnesses ranging from epilepsy, bipolar disorder, alcohol use, disorder, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

A recent study by the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Counselling Association revealed that at least four million Ugandans are suffering from some form of mental illness.
Mr Muyingo said districts should lobby the government to increase funding towards mental health services in schools and the community.
He said the ministry had come up with a circular on mental health in schools to guide and solicit support from development partners to promote mental health awareness and treatment in schools.

Mr Ismail Mulindwa, the director of  Basic and  Secondary Education, said the effects of Covid-19 continue to ignite the risk of depression, anxiety, and stress among adolescents.
Mr Mulindwa noted that globally, half of all mental illness start by the age of 14, and mental illness affects 16 percent of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19.
He added that even teachers were affected at personal, family and professional levels, depleting their resilience, making the teaching and learning process compromised.
Mr Henry Ssemakula, a senior education officer, called for parents’ involvement in counselling their children so that they can be able to manage problems in a positive manner.