What you need to know:
The issue: Mental health
Our view: Hopefully the conversations and actions generated around mental health will not end with May, the month set aside for mental health awareness but will go on long after it ends because only then, will we achieve tangible results.
At the Uganda National Mental Health Conference 2022 organised by the Uganda Counsellors Association under the theme “make mental health for all a priority”, Mr Joseph Ajal, a human resource professional narrated how his wife of 16 years who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia ended up committing suicide. He said despite treatment, the condition had proceeded to be acute.
The conference was aimed at creating awareness about mental health illness, reducing stigma and increasing allocation in the National Budget. (See Daily Monitor of May 26, “Leaders call for increased mental health awareness”)
Mr Ajal pointed out key issues that must be considered in dealing with mental health. He highlights the pain that caregivers suffer as they strive to take care of their people. He said, “As a husband of a woman who was mentally ill all through our marriage, I can tell you that the caregiver faces just as much pain, if not more, than the sufferer. Because when she would not sleep, I would not sleep. When she was smashing plates against the walls and throwing knives around the house, I was the one suffering wounds.
As the principal caregivers, the family members are in pain because we know what they [mental illness patients] are going through, but they [victims] don’t because they are held captive by their mental illness”
This goes to show that not only do people suffering from poor mental health need help, those who care for them need help too. They need to know how to cope without also jeopardizing their own health. This widens the scope of issues that mental health awareness campaigns need to tackle.
As we create awareness about mental health and encourage everyone to always ensure that those around them are not suffering from mental illness silently, we must also seek out the caretakers and offer the support that they need. And to reiterate the spirit of the Uganda National Mental Health Conference, more funds need to be allocated to dealing with mental health. It is as much a priority as anything else, if not more.
Hopefully the conversations and actions generated around mental health will not end with May, the month set aside for mental health awareness but will go on long after it ends because only then, will we achieve tangible results.
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