Health Uganda (MHU) is concerned about the rampant cases of mental illness in
the country resulting from alcohol and drug abuse.
Health Uganda is an advocacy organization for people that use mental health
services. Derrick Kiiza, the Executive Director of Mental Health Uganda says that a preliminary survey conducted in 14 regional referral hospitals by the
organization during the lock down found that nine out of ten cases of mental
health illness are related to alcohol and drug abuse.
disclosed that nine out of the eleven beds in the hospitals reserved for mental
health service seekers had patients whose conditions resulted from alcoholism
and substance abuse.
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Some of the substances being abused by the population include Marijuana,
cocaine and alcohol especially in West Nile and the Northern Region.
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He says that the other factors contributing to mental health illness are
poverty and HIV/AIDS. Records from Mental Health Uganda indicate that 34% of
every Ugandan regardless of age and gender has suffered from mental illness
while one out of four people have suffered or is suffering from mental illness,
according to WHO.
Kiiza disclosed this at the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) in Gulu City
while addressing journalists on the status of mental health services in Uganda.
He appealed to the local and central governments to extend support towards
mental health services, saying the situation is still very bad.
On the other hand, J.J Paul Nyeko, the Coordinator Mental Health Uganda in Gulu
which has partnered with Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, said that cases of
mental health illness in Northern Region is alarming. He explained that
majority of the cases manifest through suicide and Post Stress and Traumatic
Disorders (PTSD) among other complications.
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Nyeko says that the situation has been worsened by the nationwide Covid-19
pandemic, which affected access to mental health services, increased poverty,
caused stress and distress as well as domestic violence. At Gulu Mental Health
Department more than 60 people are admitted monthly with mental illness
triggered by overindulgence in illicit drugs and alcohol.
A 2016 study on alcohol use among adults found that the
prevalence of alcohol use was highest in the northern region at 23.2 percent,
followed by the Western region with 21.4 per cent, central 18.5 per cent while eastern
region had the lowest prevalence of 13.7 percent.
Miriam Apiyo, a mental health client decried stigmatization and abuse of
persons with mental disabilities by members of society.
Emmy Daniel Ojara is a young journalist and has been practicing since 2013, during which he covered land rights violation in the contested Apaa and Lakang in Amuru as his first take ups while at Gulu Fm, Favor Fm and later Paidha Fm and Speak Fm where he is still attached.
Human rights abuses and denied access to land by security and government agencies has been the major aftermath of the contest over the lands. The underprivileged such as women, children and the elderly faced challenges in accessing soc