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UN tackles mental health issues

Mental illness manifests in multitudes of symptoms.

Some of those symptoms are; mood swings, depression or bipolar disorder, anxiety, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, trauma-related disorders and substance abuse. Such disorders were discussed at length during a panel discussion that was held as part of the United Nations Mental Health Day, which was held to commemorate to deliberate on issues surrounding mental health. The panelists included  caregivers, social workers, church leaders and psychologists who came together to raise awareness on mental health, from the different professions perspectives.

The idea, according to the organisers, was to shed more light on mental health as it had been established that the society was still ignorant of the fact that besides genetic disorders, mental health could also be a result of circumstances.

The discussions were held around the theme: Conversations Around Mental Health, to which panelist agreed that more conversations around mental health should be held to break the stigma and societal stereotypes as well as to address the challenges involved in dealing with mental health.

In the discussion, mental health expert from the Ministry of Health and Wellness Mr Patrick Zibochwa said 450 million people in the world were suffering from mental illnesses, 36 630 of whom were from Botswana.

He highlighted that 36 481 comprised of youth aged between 15 and 35 years 2 630 of whom were suffering from depression.

He said depression was the worst form of mental illness in Botswana with many patients committing and some attempting to commit suicide.

“Many people die silently because of depression, with the fear of being judged and being name shamed,” he said.

Mr Zibochwa also said a lot of people were suffering from work-related mental illnesses most of which was depression brewed by grapevine.

Clinical Psychologist at Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital Ms Malebogo Gouwe shared that Batswana, mostly men, were not emotionally expressive, but preferred to rather explain their physical pain.

She said the notion that men were not supposed to cry at times cost them their lives, explaining that statistics showed that more men committed suicide using drastic measures, unlike women who on many incidents only attempt to commit suicide.

Ms Gouwe said substance abuse was taken as a mental disorder that cuts across all ages and that children started using drugs at an early age.

“When children start using drugs at an early age, their developing brain cells get affected and do not grow back once dead,” she said.

Princess Marina Hospital Social worker, Mr Tefo Mokone said people living with mental illnesses were faced with the challenge of little or no family support.

He said some families were not supportive because they lacked the knowledge and at times family members were the causes of one’s depression.

“What if a mentally ill patient does not have a caregiver or the caregiver is the real problem?” he asked. Mr Mokone further said there were instances where one would be stigmatised because they stigmatised themselves first.

“If you put yourself in the corner, people who do not know what you are going through will push you further into that corner,” he added. A representative of Botswana Council of Churches Reverend Tshenolo Madigela said the church acted as a hospital for the sick, not just for physical illnesses, but also any other challenge that affected all the dimensions of life.

She said that most illnesses were associated with spirituality and at times the church may point out someone as being demonically possessed.

“By lack of knowledge the church assist in stigmatizing and discriminating the mentally challenged,” she said.

She emphasised that the church being a teaching institution also need to be taught about the issues of mental health and all aspects surrounding it.

Mental health caregiver Ms Mildred Masoeu said it was not easy to assist the mentally challenged at times because of their inability to communicate.

She said being a caregiver required patience mostly when the patients do not want to talk.

“I cope by accepting and acknowledging that one does not want to talk and establishing a new routine which can work for the patient and the caregiver. ENDS


Source : BOPA

Author : Oarabile Molosi

Location : Oarabile Molosi

Event : Panel discussion

Date : Nov 12 Tue,2019


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