Young people’s mental health has reached a crisis point, with youth depression increasing significantly over the past years. Half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 24. Depression and mental health issues in youth can have a major impact on health and quality of life in adulthood.
The rising cases of suicide among Ugandans and especially among young people have raised some concerns about the state of mental health in the country. Mental health services are so understaffed & there’s no money to even hire the people necessary.
As a result of the recently passed Mental Health Bill 2014, an estimated 6.8 million Ugandans with various mental health challenges will be able to access treatment at a primary health center. However, the challenge here is that this only caters for the physical mental disorders. The majority of young people who experience poor mental health don’t receive the necessary support. Therefore a meaningful conversation around what they need to do in order to grow up healthy, happy, and resilient is both timely and necessary.
Suicide and substance abuse have been on the rise. The largest number of admissions in the Alcohol and Drug Unit at the National Mental Referral Hospital at Butabika is that of students from higher institutions of learning. Yet there are very few rehab centers for the treatment of the vast number of youths suffering from various forms of addiction. Youth unemployment and poverty have to be dealt with seriously if young people are to be helped out of the challenges of mental health.
Mental Health Awareness Week Uganda
The International Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 13th to 19th May every year and it’s when the world joins to show support and experience on mental health issues in our communities. There are events and campaigns held to discuss how best to tackle or overcome this challenge. Dealing with mental health issues isn’t an easy experience, but spreading awareness and helping to give something back to help others is always a good start.
For 2019, mental health awareness week, we organized an online awareness campaign using the hashtag #MentalHealthAwarenessUG to help drive and engage conversations around what young people go through and how they can survive this challenge. More to this, we organized radio campaigns and also partnered on an event to ensure more awareness to young people on and offline.
Click on the #MentalHealthAwarenessUG hashtag to catch up on some of the conversations online revolving around the campaign including the interviews and events participated by thousands of young people;
Awareness days have had their day, however, we believe it’s not about raising awareness anymore, it’s about making sure the right help is available to those who need it. MentalHealthAwarenessUG campaign was fantastic but we need it to be more than a fleeting one-week initiative and rather an ongoing commitment to improve young people’s mental health and provide more on-ground support.
Every Friday, we share and talk about depression among young people and encourage them to share their stories with us via firstname.lastname@example.org, a cause we are transforming into meetup talk sessions every end of the month.