Refugees, communities, in Lamwo, Karamoja struggling with depression

Research shows that forcibly displaced people often experience additional distress both during the escape and after, while they adjust to an unfamiliar place, all leading to psychological harm from the traumatic events that drive people from their homes.

The mental health situation of Palabek refugee settlement for Southern Sudan nationals in Lamwo district is a matter of grave concern that needs urgent attention.

The conditions in the camps are often overcrowded, unsanitary, and lack basic necessities such as clean water, food, education and healthcare. This has led to high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression among women and children.

According to Barnabas Langoya, the district education officer of Lamwo district, some learners and teachers in camps have been affected by mental health issues and this year alone they have received two suicidal cases in teachers and it is linked to financial and domestic issues.

Langoya noted that situation has greatly impacted the academic performance of the district at PLE and UACE therefore he appealed to the government to intervene by filling the gap of 400 teachers to avoid overworking the available teachers which increases their stress.

Langoya also called on non government organisations such as Strong Minds Uganda to extend its services in the entire district not only in Palabek settlement.

Rebecca Ayo, a mental health supervisor at Strong Minds Lamwo district, stated that they have 250 children from southern Sudan who came without their parents. These children are on their own and consequently face a lot of challenges and need constant counselling.

However she revealed that there is a slight reduction of depressed learners and teachers due constant therapy to the victims and there are also success stories in academic performance.

Meanwhile, in Kotido district in Karamoja region, children and women are said to be experiencing a mental health crisis and depression at unprecedented levels, leaders and the civil society are linking the situation to forced child marriages and cattle rustlers.

Specioza Nawal Kifunga, the programs officer Strong Mind Kotido, noted issues of child marriages against the will of the girl is among the common causes for depression. Cattle rustling is another.

Ms Kifunga said the organisation has started conducting therapy sessions in the bid to mitigate the challenge affecting the people and this has changed many victims' lives.

Recent estimates from the World Health Organisation show that over 300 million people around the world are depressed.

Uganda is not an exception to this global picture, with a sizable number of people battling depression, the government is committed to allocate 1 percent of its budget to support mental health in schools.

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