OSHAKATI - Head of the Psychiatrist department at the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital Dr Moges Ayehu Admussu has urged the community to stop stigmatising mental health patients and instead to offer them emotional support.
Speaking to New Era after the World Health Mental Day commemoration at Oshakati Admussu said the hospital is frequented by at least 130 patients on average on a daily basis and 18 000 yearly.
According to the doctor, the hospital admits on average between 75-78 males and between 40-60 females.
“Society needs to change the perception of people with mental illnesses; teach people how to solve problems and deal with stress from an early stage,” Admussu related as he cites some of the factors affecting mental health.
Although there are vigorous programmes put in place to arrest mental problems, the hospital has a shortage of staff with only one psychiatric attending to a population of 500 000 from the surrounding compared to 30 000 as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In addition to the one psychiatric, there are only two medical staff and three relief staff attached to the psychiatric ward.
Some of the contributing factors to mental health include lack or limited support from friends and families when individuals face challenges in their lives, alcohol and drug substance abuse.
He said the ward admits at least three patients with alcohol-related problems on a daily basis and encourages people to drink wisely.
One other grave concern noted by the hospital in its attempts to arrest mental health related problems include an increase of suicides in adolescent.
Equally, the doctor also appealed to the youth to use social media wisely and to refrain from being exposed to social destructions.
The doctor also appealed to the patients and family to ensure that individuals get treatment whilst early.
He said some patients derail getting treatment after being ill-advised by charismatic churches or witch doctors.
This year’s mental health day is celebrated under the theme ‘young people and mental health in a changing world’.
Statistics mentioned by various speakers show that 1 out of 4 individuals are suffering from one sort of mental illness of which one in six people are aged 10-19 years old.