Know your Mental Health

  • fighting stigma in Africa

WHO (World Health Organization) defines mental health as a state of physical and psychological well-being of an individual. The positive dimension of mental health is also stressed in their definition of health as also contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”


WHO reported that People with mental disorders experience disproportionately higher rates of disability and mortality. For example, persons with major depression and schizophrenia have a 40% to 60% greater chance of dying prematurely than the general population, owing to physical health problems that are often left unattended [such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and HIV infection) and suicide.


For a long time in Africa, people did not have adequate knowledge about mental illness.  This had led to most people in our communities associating mental illness to witchcraft because people have not clearly distinguished the difference between the two societal challenges.


Most of those who are affected by mental illness ended up under the care of traditional healers and of which in my own opinion, may have received wrong treatment for a wrong diagnosis. Does this solve the problem?


I imagine some of these mismanaged cases of mental illness now display in our communities, where the victims are left to suffer psychologically and ponder on their own, stigmatized by the community members because of their untreated mental disorders.


Mental health is basically concern with thinking, feeling and acting. Individuals with healthy mental well-being tends to feel strong and  confident, productive and engage in the community hence able to overcome social challenges.


Ironically mentally ill people may act in deviant ways, such as having have suicidal ideation, isolate themselves from others, have bad dreams among others, etc.


Mental health issues are triggered by many challenges such as traumatic life events, grief, continued hardship, addiction, and abuse.


This can be clearly distinguished from witchcraft related problems based on signs and symptoms.


All people, young and old, rich or poor are entitled to a healthy mental well-being hence we all need to take responsibility to ensure everyone has access to mental health treatments.

Make sure to report any suspected mental illness to mental health units or mental health professionals for medical attention and management immediately.


Daniel comboni ocen