WINDHOEK- Alcohol and drug abuse is the main cause of 60 to 80 percent of mental health illnesses in Namibia, according to psychiatrist, Dr Lahja Hamunjela of the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
She made these observations when she spoke to New Era yesterday on the World Mental Health Day which is a day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.
Hamunjela explained within that figure other medical conditions such as meningitis and tuberculosis may also contribute to mental health.
The remaining 20 percent cases of mental health are caused by psychological factors such as mood disorders including depression. Other psychological factors in adults include schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. In children, the most common mental illness is ‘Attention deficit hyper activity,’ said Hamunjela.
Children with this condition have “too much energy” are hyperactive and cannot sit still even in class, explained the psychiatrist.
Speaking to New Era on the same subject, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku said mental health is a cause for concern in Namibia because in the Oshakati Intermediate Mental ward, 80 percent of patients there are under the age of 30.
He said 80 percent of the causes of mental illness of these patients is as a result of alcohol and drug abuse.
“We have a serious problem,” added Haufiku.
The reigning Miss Namibia, Selma Kamanya is the mental health ambassador, explained Haufiku. This year, world mental health day will be commemorated on 25 October, the minister said.
Hamunjela stressed the need for people to educate themselves on mental illness, saying people should not discriminate against those suffering from mental illness or their families.
“People should not give up on their family members with mental illness,” Hamunjela concluded.