Cases Of Mental Illness On The Rise In Mbale

4023 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda

In short
According to the hospital’s records at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, the mental unit recorded a total of 3,079 cases of mental illness out of which at least 50 were new cases in the 2010/11 financial year. In the 2011/2012 year the unit recorded at total 5,442 cases and 53 of these were new. Meanwhile in the 2012/2013 financial year, the hospital recorded at total of 6,312 cases of which 84 were new.

The increase in cases of mental illness in Mbale and the neighboring districts is worrying Mbale hospital authorities.

Records at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital indicate that there has been an upsurge in the number of patients with mental illness over the last five years.

According to the hospital’s records, the mental unit recorded a total of 3,079 cases of mental illness out of which at least 50 were new cases in the 2010/11 financial year.

In the 2011/2012 year the unit recorded at total 5,442 cases and 53 of these were new cases. Meanwhile in the 2012/2013 financial year, the hospital recorded at total of 6,312 cases of which 84 were new.

Christine Namusisi, a Psychiatric Clinical Officer at the hospital attributes the increase to a number of issues which she said needed to be addressed in order to reverse the trend.

She cited among others the increase in consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs like Marijuana especially among the youth.

Namusisi also said domestic violence is another cause of the increase in mental illness arguing that most women register such mental cases usually under intense stress, something she says comes as a result of domestic tribulations.

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Records at the mental unit at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital show that a total of 662 patients with mental illness sought treatment in June this year alone.  At least 350 of them were women compared to the 312 male patients.

Namusisi advised members of the public to show care and love to those suffering with mental illnesses in order to help them recover from the illness.

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Lawrence Okello, the Eastern Regional Coordinator of Mental Health Uganda, a national NGO working on mental illness issues, calls for intensive sensitization among members of the public to raise awareness.

He says many people in Uganda look at patients with mental illness as social outcasts and they are left to suffer yet the condition is preventable and treatable.

A 2008 survey conducted by a team of British and Ugandan psychiatrists indicates that Northern Uganda has one of the world’s highest rates of mental illness. The survey established that the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder in northern Uganda is higher than that ever recorded anywhere in the world.

They blamed it on the Lord’s Resistance Army war that lasted for two decades in the region. The team said people suffering from the resultant stress and depression do not have access to the required mental healthcare.

In Uganda, the rates of mental illness are high due to poverty, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and long-term exposure to civil wars and armed rebellion.