Activists have asked the government to increase funding for the mental health sector to improve existing facilities and support the training of more psychiatrists.
The remarks were made on September 10 2021 during the Generational Perspective Dialogue (GPD) 2021 which is part of the grand campaign by Awesome Mind Speaks (AMS); a youth-led and youth focused non-profit organisation focused on mental health and wellness for young people.
GPD provides a platform for various stakeholders to interrogate the relevance of mental health and wellness of young people in health and development programming and services delivery as well creating an opportunity for critical discussions and dissection of mental health prevention and promotion strategies for young people by young people.
Under the theme, “Mental health focus as a means of building resilience of young people in communities in the face of adversity”, this year’s GPD is executed through a series of activities including a panel discussions and keynote speeches from key people all premised on the theme.
It also featured a pledge to commitments and resolution as action points out of the dialogue to be monitored and reviewed for a period of one year.
It aims at fostering a positive, supportive and productive environment through normalizing mental health and wellness conversations in spaces of and for young people including work places, schools, homes and other notable communities
During the discussion, activists noted that there has been an increase in the prevalence of mental health concerns like depression and anxiety during the current Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda.
According to some participants, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown periods have led to destabilisation of the earning potential of many young people which has led to housing, job and food insecurity among others. When people are stressed about searching for basic resources for survival, it affects their mental health.
Dr. Godfrey Zari Rukundo, the head of department of psychiatry at Mbarara University of Science and Technology said untreated mental disorders account for about 13% of mental illness in the world, which is over 1million people the actual burden is unknown. .
“It’s a challenge that most parents need to find other ways of instilling discipline .The parents need to know their negative consequences of beating. Many parents say it’s difficult to raise children because corporal punishment is almost illegal parents don’t know how to guide their children,” he said.
He explained that there is going to be a lot of conflict for many children in their lives if the country doesn’t intervene, adding that we are likely to have lost a generation.
Phillip Ayazika, a participant said that the school which is a haven for children from predators and the church which is not just a place for praying but a place where people seek counsel are closed worsening the situation.
“Less than 1% of the health budget goes to mental health. This needs to be improved significantly. A mental health session here in Kampala goes for about $100. Young people are not able to afford that,” he noted.