Freddy Odong, a Psychiatric Nurse and the Project Manager of Suicide Prevention at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, says the number of persons seeking mental health services has dropped from between 60 to 80 each day to just 9 patients currently.
The number of mentally ill persons
seeking mental health services at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital has
drastically reduced amidst the rising number of deaths by suicide in Acholi Sub
Freddy Odong, a Psychiatric Nurse and the Project Manager of Suicide Prevention
at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, says the number of persons seeking mental
health services has dropped from between 60 to 80 each day to just 9 patients
//’Cue in: “We used to……
Cue out:…..nine deaths in ten days,”//
He says so many people have abandoned
treatment and there is too much reoccurrence of mental illness contributing to
the higher number of deaths in the region.
Odongo explained that communities have
continued discriminating people with mental illness, which accounts for relapses
and higher incidents of suicide in the region.
Lucy Amony, a mother of six children
from Kirombe Ward in Gulu West Division, says her daughter has battled mental
illness for the last twenty-five years amidst stigma and discrimination from
She says her husband abandoned her with
the children and married another woman after the family spent more than
Shillings 8 million on treating her daughter.
“The drugs are very expensive and yet we
are advised from the hospital to get them from pharmacies. I can’t afford now
after my small scale business collapsed with Covid19,” Amony told Uganda Radio
She has appealed to the government to prioritize support for people with mental
health problems through the provision of sufficient drugs in the hospital to save them
the burden of treatment.
John Paul Nyeko, the Chairperson Mental Health
Uganda for Northern Uganda revealed that over 1,500 patients with mental
illnesses are currently on treatment at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.
He, however, said stigma and
discriminations against people with mental illnesses remain the major hindrances
to breaking the cycle of mental health insurgency in the North.
“You may recall that none of the
families of people with mentally ill persons in Gulu received food relief from
government during the lockdown and the exclusions have continued,” Nyeko said.
in an early interview, Sister Immaculate Akello, the in charge Mental Health
Unit at Gulu Regional Referral called for more awareness creation.
“Mental illness is beyond one’s choices
and that calls for care of the patients at home to enhance treatment,” Sister