todayOctober 11, 2023

By Godwin Abedican


As the world commemorated the World mental Health day amidst the ever increasing cases in many parts of the world, Drug and substance abuse has been identified as the major leading cause of mental health challenges in the region of west Nile.

10th October has been designated as the World Mental Health Day, to talk about mental health and show everyone that mental health matters. It's also a day to let people know that it's okay to ask for help, no matter what you're going through. This year World Mental Health Day was marked under the theme “Mental Health is a human right.”

Annette Nyatti Queenie Adriko a researcher and CEO of Living plus haven Uganda disseminates hers research, from the Regional Referral Hospital, a tool which will be used to give a perfect reflection of the status quo of mental health challenges in West Nile region.

According to her findings, the Youngest patient hospitalised at the mental health unit is 13 years, with the oldest 86 years, 3.7% of children hospitalised, 7.3% adolescents hospitalised (with Maracha having the highest number of Adolescents), 98.5% males hospitalised.  While Arua City contributes (62%) of the cases, Maracha (12%), Terego (7.6%), as Intra ward referrals to the Mental Health unit at the referral hospital stands at (21%)

Research Findings:  Age, gender & geographical distribution.
Annette Nyatti Queenie Adriko calls for a quick fix to reverse the trend if the future generation is to be saved. “The burden of substance abuse is quite high in this town compared to other places. It’s more like becoming normal to see mad people and I speak that with pain.” she noted.

According to the data, Drug use among 15-30 years is projected at 150% by 2050 (enact. Africa 2019), Referrals highest from Terego, Imvepi refugee settlement presented most cases referred, Intra ward referrals (21%), Most 96% (n=566) patients were discharged, there were 1.5% (n=6) self-discharges and 3 % cases of relapses recorded

(Source: Research by Nyatti Queenie Adriko)

Dr. Gilbert Aniku, who represented the hospital director during the dissemination of the research regrets the limited efforts towards supporting those with mental health challenges and says it’s making the fight against the vice very hard. “The government of Uganda recognizes the challenge of mental health and there have been reforms in policy and services although limited efforts to address the root cause still compromises the efforts. To realize the vision 2040, soundness of mind is key in realizing this vision.” he said.   

Sr. Dr. Rita Binduru, a medical doctor and Psychiatrist at the mental unit at Arua regional referral hospital bitterly complains about rampant practices by many people who take what he says is a very risky decision to treat their relatives in clinics when they suffer mental health challenges.

Associating this to rising cases of insecurity, Marlon Avutia the mayor Ayivu division warns against a bigger risk of insecurity that comes with drug and substance abuse. “As a region we are now food insecure including importing of the most stable food “Cassava” and so we need to be informed by this that the energetic able bodied persons of the region are not working hence our productivity is affected which translates in affected healthcare as well as rising cases of theft since the drug addicts look for every possible way to have what they want,” Avutia said.

Since most of the drug and substance abuse issues stem from homes, Millicent Inzikuru Milly the deputy Mayor Arua city calls for deliberate efforts towards the protection of children. “Most of our youth are derailed because of this and if we continue with this trend, it’s going to be hard for us to get future leaders. Let us agree and go beyond the regional target lets target the families. We can’t look at getting money and sacrifice the future of the population,” she said.

The day was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.

COVER PHOTO: Annette Nyatti Queenie Adriko while presening on her reserch By Godwin Abedican

Share this article

Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Facebook