Saturday, December 4, 2021

Investment in mental health still low

With the World Health Organisation (WHO) anticipating that depression is likely to be the number 2 cause of disability in 2021, there is need for Botswana to scale up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. One of the primary causes for limited mental healthcare access in Botswana is the absence of adequate qualified mental health professionals to meet demand. Data shows that only about 26% of Botswana’s mental health provisions are fulfilled, a figure basically estimated by dividing the number of available psychiatrists by the number Botswana needs to have filled its clinician shortage.

The 2020 version of the Mental Health Atlas which tracks progress in implementing WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030 notes that “progress values for 2020 indicate that the targets committed to by WHO Member States have not been achieved”.

“Progress values for 2020 indicate that the global targets can be reached in 2030 only if there is a collective global commitment over the next 10 years across Member States to make massive investments and expanded efforts at the country level relating to mental health policies, laws, programmes and services,” states the Mental Health Atlas.

Speaking to this publication in an interview, Thabang Kgosi who dedicates most of his time to raise awareness of mental health and challenges of mental health stigma said the Botswana must learn the early warning signs of diminished mental health and the steps needed to protect its citizens.

“I’m also calling for a national mental health strategy in response to Covid-19,” adding that “investing in mental health is the most essential investment Botswana can make now. By investing in people, we will also be saving millions of Pula in direct and indirect health care costs. For each person who suffers from a mental illness, each family and each community suffer as well”.

In a report entitled “Psychiatric out-patient health disorders” prepared by Statistics Botswana Schizophrenia was ranked the leading cause of mental health issue in Botswana.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) one in four people will require mental health care at some point in their lives but in many countries only two per cent of all health sector resources are invested in mental health services. Average global spending on mental health is still less than US$ 3 per capita per year. In low income countries, expenditure can be as little as US$ 0.25 per person per year.

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