Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Mental health has now become a national crisis

On account of our cultural stereotypes, there is a deep sense of shame attached to mental illness. In a very big way, this keeps away people who really should be seeking help. And that is not all. This shame is also felt by families and as a result, they cannot resist the urge to hide away those family members who are themselves in need of help as a result of mental health. The number of people now suffering from mental health related illnesses has become so high that it warrants the situation being declared a crisis.

Families are suffering in silence. The stigma attached to mental health is making an already bad situation worse. Patients are too scared to seek help. Owing to stigma, people who need help cannot even approach clinics for assistance. In worse cases, it is the family members who are keeping the patients away in the backyards where they are hidden and not able to seek help. As a result of covid, a situation that was already steadily growing is now out of control.

The clinical after effects of covid are to blame for a spike in mental health cases. Too many people have had a sharp deterioration in memory since covid. But so too are the effects of lockdowns. More vulnerable to these lockdowns have been children who went for long periods of time indoors and unable to go to school. Here we have to point out that during the lockdowns, there was a lot of abuse, violence and related ills often meted to helpless women and children. Covid made it much harder for people who needed help to access it.

Then there is the economy. Too many people are finding it hard just to get by. Cost of living is now out of control. Too many people have had their properties foreclosed. This has triggered depression for many of them. And there is no end in sight for the economic woes affecting too many people. Too many deaths that happened during covid have brought too many changes to too many people. Families were left vulnerable after losing breadwinners. This disoriented too many people. And many of them simply never recovered. Botswana has to pay attention to the country’s deteriorating mental health.

As we see, it the situation is frighteningly worse  among the school children. It is aggravated by drugs and excessive times they spend on the internet. Among the children there is growing evidence in the rise of anxiety, depression, eating disorder, suicidal ideation and self-harm. That said, social media is certainly a part of the growing crisis. A lot can still be done to wean children off social media. Thee amount they spend on the internet is simply harmful to them.

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