Tackle unemployment to avert mental disorders

What you need to know:

The outbreak of Covid-19 worsened the condition because most employers laid off a higher percentage of employees in a move to cut operational costs

According to a 2020 International Labour Report, the global youth unemployment stands at 13.6 percent and this is caused by lack of job opportunities and related restrictive nature of attaining the few available ones such as work experience, gender disparities, certain level of education, age among other discriminating aspects other than merit and performance.

The outbreak of Covid-19 worsened the condition because most employers laid off a higher percentage of employees in a move to cut operational costs. This left many frustrated, disappointed, traumatised with no hope for a source of income rendering them to a state of mental inabilities.

This continued even post the pandemic period because most of the organisations that were employing the youth could not adapt to the economic hardships caused by the Covid-19 disruptions.

Therefore, the number of unemployed people has negatively impacted the community’s economic growth and development. Some unemployed youth have resorted to immoral activities and crime to make ends meet while they put the country’s security at stake.

 Due to high levels of unemployment, many youth have resorted to alcoholism to relieve themselves from mental stress.

Reports indicate that 80 percent of Ugandan youth are using alcohol and this is because most of them possess mental disorders such as anxiety, stress, and depression. The current report from the Ministry of Health illustrates clearly that 14 million Ugandans with mental illnesses seek medical attention.

With the increased cases of mental illnesses among the people, the World Health Organisation (WHO) further indicates that 90 percent of people with these mental illnesses receive no treatment because there is only one national referral hospital (Butabika).  Other than inadequate health facilities, there are other challenges that make mental health a less considered aspect of life.

Key to note is that mental health is allocated a very low budget, low skilled personnel and inadequate working equipment. All these have forced the trained workers in mental health to seek better opportunities abroad.

 The budget allocation for health in the country has remained very low, i.e. 9.8 percent of the budget is spent on healthcare with less than 1 percent allocated to mental health care.

As the Parliament agreed with the government proposal of putting people at the centre of next financial year, achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 8 of securing decent work should be crucial to curb the alarming cases of mental disorders.

 This can only be attained once the government works with the private sector to ensure that knowledge and skills imparted in learning institutions are responsive to career development.

The same should be built during the early years so that youth find rewarding work once they complete their education cycle.

That aside, I urge the youth to aim at being job creators rather than job seekers. This would relieve them from the mental disorders that are affecting majority Ugandans.

For youth to become job creators, the government should increase their financial package by availing more income generating schemes.

Lastly, the government should prioritize the mental health care budget so that the services can be accessed by all people without experiencing any hardships.

To achieve this, the government can construct more mental health care facilities, train enough health personnel and fulfil all the health-related promises.

Hildah Nsimiire

Research fellow