Uganda needs clinical pastors

A family member will help the patient avoid the likely triggers of their mental health problems. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The spiritual person in us who suffers all the pain originating from physical, mental and social pains, is experienced by everyone whether they confess God or not, young or old, white or black.  

 We have come to an age where mental health should be made popular in the remotest part  of the world because at large statistics are generated from urban masses. 

Mental health is more than persons behaving differently or in an awkward manner such as those we see in mental health facilities like Butabika Hospital. 

Millions of people especially in this time of economic hardships, are suffering from mental illness. 

Think of how many people are living with anxiety, stress, severe or mild depression, sadness, anger, unforgiveness, hatred, the feeling of not being loved and supported, burnout in work industry and families, fear of the unknown about the future, fear of death, worry, trauma and post traumatic stresses, among others. 

These and many other feelings and emotions that interfere with a proper cognitive process, need to be dealt with by rich interdisciplinary teams in our health institutions. 

In one way or the other we are all suffering or have ever suffered from mental illness or have/had mental health issues.  Uganda needs to borrow a leaf from developed health systems of the world.  Invest in training and hiring professional hospital chaplains trained in clinical pastoral education. 

Professional chaplains are experts in healing of hurting emotions and feelings of human beings. Most of the issues that lead to mental illness begin with wounded emotions and feelings that lead people into a painful situation we call spiritual pain. 

Spiritual pain is not about religion, religious or soul but about a human component God created that encompasses all that is about the unseen person/being in us. 

This is where life finds a purpose, meaning and connection with the higher/supreme power; call it God, the Holy, Supreme, greater than alI etc. The spiritual person in us who suffers all the pain originating from physical, mental and social pains, is experienced by everyone whether they confess God or not, young or old, white or black.  

Dealing with mental illness/health issues, it needs a collective effort of professional spiritual care givers (professional chaplains), psychiatrics, counsellor and other healthcare professionals. 

There are many stressors of life. Economic hardships exacerbated by Covid-19 pandemic, is leading to a lot of mental health issues and illnesses hence leads to overwhelming number of people dying  every day due to mental illness. 

John Mwesige, Chaplain,  Bro Andre Medical Centre, Nairobi Kenya

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