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A Sick Nation

How do you know a country doesn't take mental health issues seriously? It jails individuals who attempt suicide, it blames mental illnesses on witchcraft, or claims these illnesses are only for rich or white people, just to mention a few. The only mental illness that is recognized in the country is madness, the rest almost don’t exist. People have been dying and are still dying due to lack of access to mental health services which include therapy, counseling and support. It’s a shame that today that a majority of Malawians don't even know where to access mental health help or support or who to call.

Malawi has a Mental health Policy under the Ministry of Health which is supposed to help address issues of mental health in the country but it seems that very little is being done or achieved on the ground. Mental health services are not as centralized as they are ought to be, are not well integrated into primary health care system as they must be and are not accessible to most local Malawians.

Malawi registered 87 suicide deaths in just 6 months! And there are a lot more cases of suicide attempts, clearly our nation is sick and we are not doing anything to heal it. Mental health illnesses should be addressed with the same seriousness like other diseases. We all know the symptoms of malaria because there has been a lot of awareness raised, we all know where to go to to be treated for malaria, that should be the same case with issues around mental health.

Our and laws govern how several issues are addressed in a country. Jailing individuals who attempt suicide communicates where we stand as a country on issues of mental health. Such kind of policies and laws have to be completely removed, we have to accept that a suicide attempt is a serious symptom of mental health illness. Instead of jailing them how about we offer them the support they need which is obviously outside jail cells.

There has to be a lot of awareness around mental health. The stigmas around mental health illness have to be addressed. Every individual must be very well informed on mental health issues, like different types of mental health illnesses. Every individual must have information on where tp access mental health services. People have to know that it is okay to feel the way they feel and that they can get help.

Some campaigns have been done but they are not enough, there is a lot that has to be done and one campaign cannot address it all. I expect more and real involvement from the government under the ministry of health, different organizations and movements to join the band wagon to help fight against mental health illnesses.

A healthy Mind, a Healthy Body!!!

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