There are 30 psychiatrists working in Uganda. With a total population of more than 35 million people, that’s less than one per million. The World Health Organisation estimates that 90% of mentally ill people here never get treatment. – BBC
Uganda’s state of mental health is clearly a dark and gloomy one. When you speak of mental health, most people automatically think madness and depression yet these are just two aspects of a wide dichotomy. The World Health Organisation in defining health notes
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
For many Ugandans, health only alludes to the physiological, that is, physical disease. The mind is somehow expected to self cleanse as it keeps normal bodily functions going.
The name of the one mental health hospital in Uganda is a symbol of stigma. In Africa, Uganda in particular, it is shameful to have mental issues. Worry, depression, etc are all frowned upon and when one comes out as dealing with these, more often than not, are considered weak or as having “white people” mentality. According to World Health Organisation, “Stigma and discrimination against patients and families prevent people from seeking mental health care”. Often times, comparisons are made.
“If you have food, and a bed to sleep, why would you be depressed?”
The stigma thus leaves the issue largely privately dealt with. Keeping our heads in the sand however hasn’t made the situation better. If it’s anything to go by, last month’s double suicide attempts are an indicator. You may have dealt with it, are dealing with it, know someone who has dealt with it or someone that the issue is challenging. It is desirable that everyone find a way to deal with it, and most times it should be with people, not by oneself.
We at UgBloc have decided to not be part of the problem but offer a way of expression for those dealing with these issues. You are not as alone as you think. Therefore, for a greater part this month, we shall be sharing our stories about mental health. We shall share how we are dealing with it, overcoming it, what challenges we face, people’s stories that need to be heard and more, so that together we know, we are not alone.
The conversation will be under the hashtag #HearMyHeart because we want to hear your honest experience without judging. Mental health is important and we must find ways to overcome, first though, we want you to know we are listening.
Share your stories with UgBloc either on your own blog or by sending us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org, remember to use the hashtag #HearMyHeart when you post, either on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.