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Mental Health Issues in Uganda

Mental health is an essential component of human health. It is a state of well-being in which a person realizes their abilities, can withstand the everyday stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to the community. However, in underdeveloped countries, such as Uganda, the issue of psychological health is very acute. Studying the demographic characteristics of the population, and the available treatment methods will help to form a complete picture for providing more effective care.

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The level of mental health of a person at any given time is determined by numerous social, psychological, and biological factors. Poor mental health is also associated with rapid social change, stressful conditions, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyles, and physical ill-health. Most African countries have deficient spending on mental health services. For example, approximately 35% of the adult population of Uganda suffers from mental illness, and only a tiny percentage suffers from severe mental illness that has a detrimental impact on life (Shah et al., 2017). A recent meta-analysis by Miller et al. (2020) estimated depression prevalence of 31% among all HIV-infected people. Depression is also a disability-adjusted life year (DALY), contributing 234.939,61 DALY in 2017, which accounted for 1.4% of the total disease burden in Uganda that year (Miller et al., 2020). Due to the presence of many health problems, the low standard of living, the ethnic diversity of the inhabitants, and the low level of values, the population of the countries of this continent are at significant risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders.

The study of problems related to deviations in psychological health in African countries occupies one of the minor places. Sankoh et al. (2018) point out that only twenty-one articles in the conducted research were dedicated to depression, seven to anxiety, six to suicide, four to addiction, one to psychosis, and none to schizophrenia. This lack shows that very little attention is paid to such issues in the country.

The problem of stigmatization is one of the primary problems of psychiatry today in economically underdeveloped countries. It is believed to impede the way to decreasing cases of mental health problems in the whole world (Rasmussen et al., 2019). In many African countries, patients with severe mental disorders do not receive any treatment for a long time. Stigma affects the social identity of individuals, spoils it, and devalues it in the eyes of others; it affects not only the feelings, thoughts, and behavior of these individuals but also harms their health. Ashaba et al. (2018, p. 7) claim that “there is a need to incorporate psychological interventions in the mainstream HIV care to address these challenges for optimal management among adolescents living with HIV.” To combat this phenomenon, it is necessary to educate the population about the importance of psychological diseases and their treatment.

Psychological counseling is aimed at helping people cope with their mental issues. Nsereko (2017) emphasizes the need to provide professional assistance to at-risk groups in Uganda. Counseling Association of the country must make aggressive drives toward therapy services awareness among the general public because the public has a scanty and sometimes incomplete picture of treatment. Some provinces are trying to replace the existing shortage of psychiatric personnel with public forms of assistance to the mentally ill and their family members, which is provided by various non-governmental, non-profit organizations and associations.

As a treatment in African countries, great importance is attached to conversation. All traditional therapy is based on verbal measures to improve the condition of patients. It is similar to an individual report of patients about what is bothering them. In Africa, it is crucial to connect psychoanalysis with all aspects of culture, with all the accumulated wisdom in regions not yet covered by civilization, where people understand what the basis of their life is, cultural guidelines should be kept.

Due to the stigmatization of mental illnesses, Uganda lacks a robust system of assistance to combat them. Health care facilities are short of medical staff, which means they do not have enough time to solve other problems, in addition to providing physical care to patients. Shah et al. (2017) emphasize that recent efforts to implement mental health care into the main healthcare system in Uganda are not completely realized in rural areas. Thus, the information that the provision of psychological assistance in Uganda is at a low level can be proved.

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Physicians in Uganda should use special guidelines to help diagnose mental health disorders better. For instance, Nakku et al. (2019) give an observation of the development, implementation, and evaluation of a mental healthcare plan (MHCP) for Kamuli District. The study (n = 1893) was conducted from June to November 2013 before training primary health care workers in the WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Program Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG). The training included the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of selected mental disorders, including depression, alcohol use disorder, psychosis, and epilepsy (Nakku et al., 2019). Physicians were provided with copies of the mhGAP intervention guidelines, which can be an essential part of their work and help prevent misdiagnosis of mental health illnesses.

In modern society, every year, there are new complications associated with psychological diseases, which particularly affect economically underdeveloped countries. Socio-economic changes are taking place, and not all people can adapt to a rapidly changing world, which leads to a deterioration in mental health. In countries such as Uganda, there is a particular need to break down the stigma surrounding such diseases and to attract more attention to the training and work of specialized specialists in this field. Modern treatment of mental illnesses should be introduced, including comprehensive and accessible to the public using various methods and working with medical professionals.

References

Ashaba, S., Cooper-Vince, C., Maling, S., Rukundo, G. Z., Akena, D., & Tsai, A. C. (2018). Internalized HIV stigma, bullying, major depressive disorder, and high-risk suicidality among HIV-positive adolescents in rural Uganda. Global Mental Health, 5. Web.

Miller, A. P., Kintu, M., & Kiene, S.M. (2020). Challenges in measuring depression among Ugandan fisherfolk: A psychometric assessment of the Luganda version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). BMC Psychiatry, 20(1). Web.

Nakku, J. E. M., Rathod, S. D., Garman, E. C., Ssebunnya, J., Kangere, S., De Silva, M., Patel, V., Lund, C., & Kigozi, F. N. (2019). Evaluation of the impacts of a district-level mental health care plan on contact coverage, detection and individual outcomes in rural Uganda: A mixed methods approach. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 13(1). Web.

Nsereko, N. D. (2017). The evolution of mental health understanding and practice in Uganda. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience, 19(1), 354-360.

Rasmussen, J. D., Kakuhikire, B., Baguma, C., Ashaba, S., Cooper-Vince, C. E., Perkins, J. M., Bangsberg, D.R., & Tsai, A. C. (2019). Portrayals of mental illness, treatment, and relapse and their effects on the stigma of mental illness: Population-based, randomized survey experiment in rural Uganda. PLoS medicine, 16(9). Web.

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Sankoh, O., Sevalie, S., & Weston, M. (2018). Mental health in Africa. The Lancet Global Health, 6(9), 954-955.

Shah, A., Wheeler, L., Sessions, K., Kuule, Y., Agaba, E., & Merry, S. P. (2017). Community perceptions of mental illness in rural Uganda: An analysis of existing challenges facing the Bwindi Mental Health Programme. African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, 9(1), 1-9. Web.

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