By Witness Banda
Authorities at St John of God Mental Health Services officials have expressed worry over the rise of mental health illnesses especially among the youth in the country.
According to data collected from the hospital’s Mzuzu centre, the first quarter of 2021 saw 1,913 people seeking mental health attention in 2021, a figure that has risen to 1933 in 2022 same period.
In Lilongwe the number of patients was 1,376 in the first three months of 2021 which has gone up by 1,612 in 2022.
Chief Executive Officer for St John of God, Charles Masulani said the common problem has been drug and substance abuse.
“We used to have more middle-aged groups related to parental issues and emotional issues and use of drug substance, but within the study especially here in Lilongwe, the use of cannabis sativa among primary going school learners is becoming a major problem.” Masulani said.
Commenting on the issue health rights activist Maziko Matemba said the figures is a wakeup call for the government to be on alert in managing mental health related problems.
“Government will have a challenge to manage some of these issues because as you are as aware, we have few hospitals who can be able to sustain or maintain or support people who are mentally challenged, and government need to fine the root causes of why people are having these substance abuse because there must be a loop close, whether poverty, unemployment or other issues which affect communities at different levels that has to be managed.” Maziko said.
Speaking recently, after visiting St John of God Hospitaller and College of Health Sciences in Mzuzu Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda encouraged youth who have the passion to have training in health related programmes to also think of psychosocial training, a cadre which is underdeveloped in Malawi.
Malawi has three institutions that provide mental health services which are St John of God Hospitaller in Mzuzu and Lilongwe and Zomba Mental Hospital.