This article wishes to address the not so much spoken suicide rate among professionals and the leading cause – depression or mental health. To begin with, the author wishes to state that every professional need mental health for them to perform their duties fully. The article explores the leading causes of mental problems and pens off with means we can address mental health in our organisations.
So much has been written and reported but there is no much information and work that addresses mental health amongst professionals in Namibia. We have lost many educators, architects, nurses, security officials and other professionals to suicide related to mental health or depression. Many of these whom we have lost have shown signs that relatives, colleagues and peers could have seen but not relate to mental health – let alone help them. Institutions and organisations have lost expertise due to depression.
The question is, what are we doing as a country, organisation, a school, the church and many social organs to address let alone mitigate this conundrum? Our institutions of learning and training, is there anything that they are doing as part of their curriculum to prepare trainees and graduate for this challenge that lies ahead of them? Many a time, the signs and reason people choose suicide over counselling are due to lack of information.
The media and authors out there, professional counsellors across the country, what are we doing to educate, prepare and avert death caused by depression? Many a time, the reasons are given or leading causes are related to financial struggles, relationship, break up, marital problems, gender-based violence, family problems, work-related stress, job losses, death of a loved one, infertility and many more. Some people have chosen the easy route to commit suicide due to social failure.
Some are suffering in silence, indebted to loan sharks and no one seems to care. Are our hospitals prepared to provide adequate counselling and make follow up on mothers who have lost their children due to stillbirth those who are unable to conceive? Our people and culture stand to be among many reasons people hardly seek professional help. However, an awareness campaign, aimed at debunking these myths, needs to be increased to address these myths. Someone out there needs to do something, and the death of one is way too much; society has retorted to make the sufferer laughing stocks instead of helping them. I thus wish to submit and suggest herein that it is high time the ministry of health employs all unemployed counsellors who have graduated and are unable to find a job.
There is a need to create a body and organisation to help professionals get past their depression. The body will then be responsible to make an awareness campaign to address the myth of not believing in professional counselling.
Creating a body will create direct employment, and having campaigns will increase the number of those seeking counselling services, thereby creating an opportunity for some unemployed to open private practices as we see in western countries. The high institutions of learning need to have counselling as part of every vocation and profession; managers should be trained to handle, identify and conduct professional counselling.
Moreover, including mental health in every curriculum will help professionals understand, identify and cope with depression. Just as learners in school are equipped with a life skills teacher or teacher counsellor, every ministry needs to employ one professional counsellor at least, who can then provide guidance and counselling on reference by organisation managers.
This way, we could at least begin to manage and someday eradicate death caused by mental health, stress and depression. I here so