Exposing Uganda's Mental Health Crisis

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Exposing Uganda's Mental Health Crisis
The national mental referral hospital in Butabika

Yes, yes, and yes. We have a mental health crisis in Uganda. Janet Katana, a psychologist with Safe Spaces, confirms this disturbing reality and further adds that the recent suicide cases in the country are manifestations of this crisis revealing the severity of the situation.

Reference: Shukla Chiragkumar, 35, an Indian national, was pronounced dead at UMC Bukoto after jumping to his death on June 3rd from the fourth floor of Skyz Hotel in Naguru.

Three days before this tragic event, John Babirukamu, a seasoned digital marketing specialist and General Manager at Hedge Marketing, passed away after jumping off the fifth floor of Tagore Apartments in Kamwokya. These are but a minute fraction of the several suicide cases that do not make it to the mainstream.

Among the diseases that plague the country, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, mental health-related illnesses have taken a front-row seat, affecting our homes, workplaces, and social spaces, impacting even the seemingly happiest people we know.

Our minds are largely the engine that makes our body move and function, though seemingly invisible. Psychological well-being includes how a person feels, thinks, behaves, and manages day-to-day activities. Mental health plays a crucial role in one's humanity and productivity.

Challenges to mental well-being can be short, medium, and long-term. Unfortunately, efforts to manage this crisis have been less than those employed to combat other diseases in the country.

It is also worth noting that in Uganda, the issue of mental health became prominent during the COVID-19 period.

Many people and nations were forced into long periods of lockdown, with the fear of infections and death being quite profound. Uncertainty in the workplace, among other factors, significantly stretched people's mental health, awakening their consciences to the deeply entrenched gaps in their mental well-being.

While a number pulled through COVID-19, a significant number carried their unhealed selves into the new normal.

Today, it is seven days into June, Men's Mental Health Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness about mental health issues affecting men and boys, encouraging open conversations, reducing stigma, and promoting early intervention and treatment.

The theme for this year's Men's Mental Health Awareness Month is "Men's Mental Health: Making Connections.

Mental health challenges manifest differently in children, men, and women, but the effects are universally negative. No one is immune to these impacts. Although statistics show that women have more suicide attempts than men, men are more likely to die by suicide.

Societal norms often discourage men from discussing their problems, creating a harmful stigma around seeking help. The belief that men should not show vulnerability is unhealthy and dangerous. Men, like all humans, need support and understanding. Seeking help does not make them less of a man.

Raising awareness about mental health, providing support avenues, and involving all stakeholders is crucial. Creating this awareness helps reduce stigma, offering support ensures those struggling to get the help they need, and engaging all stakeholders—from healthcare providers to community members—fosters a comprehensive approach to mental well-being.

As an individual, you can support your mental health by equipping yourself with the necessary resources and staying vigilant for triggers that might disrupt your well-being. By understanding and managing these factors, you can maintain better mental health and resilience.

 

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