Uganda, through the Ministry of Health and its partners, today joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Mental Health Day- October 10, 2020.
This is intended to raise awareness on mental health especially during the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the media today, Dr. Juliet Nakku, the Executive Director of Butabika National Referral Hospital said that various interventions have been made to ensure good mental health among the people, especially amidst the pandemic whose effects have come in all forms but more so, posing a risk on people’s emotional-mental stability.
“Treatment of mental health patients is ongoing, we have Butabika hospital which is a specialist facility for mental health. We provide psychosocial support and we also train health workers on provision of mental health care,” said Dr. Nakka.
“We have been able to provide a lot of services with support from partners during the COVID-19 pandemic. We mobilized and engaged all psychiatrists in the country on how to deal with mental health issues arising from the pressure that came along pandemic,” she added.
Although many people have greatly been affected by the pandemic, Nakku stressed that people who have suffered mental illnesses before or previously, are more vulnerable and therefore need a lot of support. As such, she noted, government has endeavored to extend mental health supplies to as many hospitals as possible to help out when need arises.
“Government has trained specialists and the experts are in all our hospitals. All mental health drugs and treatment are free of charge in all government health facilities,” she said.
Dr Diana Atwine, the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary said that health workers need to be oriented to look out for symptoms of mental health both at facility and community level for any emerging cases.
In the same vein, Dr Hafsa Luswata, Assistant Commissioner mental health focal person at the Health Ministry confirmed thus, “We have developed guidelines for health workers and managers of health workers on handling mental health in the community.”
The World Health Organisation, has, in the day’s message, called on governments and other partner organisations to beef up mental health programmes as this support is needed now more than ever considering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been,” reads part of the statement from WHO.