By Ocitti Robert

GULU– Uganda Government Prisons do not have trained personnel to provide mental health services to inmates suffering from mental health disorders. The Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons Services, Dr. Johnson Byabashaija says the situation is very regrettable, noting that they are partly to be blamed. However, he assures the public that plans are underway to address the challenge as they intend to liaise with some government hospitals across the country to design special wards where such inmates will be getting mental health services. 

Dr. Johnson Christopher Byabashaija, the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons Services (Photo Credit: Prisons Publication)

We do not have a specific system for mental health services”, Byabashaija said. However, the commissioner general made promise, “But we have acquired a plot at Butabika hospital (the only national mental health referral hospital in Uganda) and we are going to build two customized hospital wards, one for inmates and the other for staff like what the UPDF has done. UPDF has a ward for staff at Butabika hospital”. According to Byabashaija, the prisons will have four wards with special consideration for the inmates to access the due mental services they deserve. He regretted that the problem should have been solved long time ago.


Prisoners waiting to be attended to at Mbarara Prison HIV Clinic (Photo Credit:
WHO/J. Kisambu, 2017)



Paul JJ Nyeko, the chairperson of Mental Health Uganda, Gulu branch attributes the low response in addressing the plight of persons suffering from mental health disorders to weak policies. Other challenges include poor attitude of some members of the public, inadequate statistics on persons suffering from mental health disorders and the little support being given by the various stakeholders.


Robert Larry Larubi, the communications officer of Mental Health Uganda said they are running an awareness campaign involving mental service users to promote advocacy for global mental health, primarily to tackle some of the commonest mental health disorders such depression, anxiety, stress, addiction, bipolar and suicidal tendency.

Statistics by Mental Health Uganda indicates that in every four people, one is always found to be having some form of mental health disorder. End.