Friday, December 3, 2021

Where the media and mental health cross paths

Botswana’s only mental referral hospital since 1938, Sbrana Hospital in Lobatse, was on Tuesday expected to hold a media workshop at its premises. Due to run from 8am to 11am, the event aimed to enlighten the media on mental health issues as well as discuss the media’s role as stakeholders in mental healthcare.

This was revealed by a representative of the hospital, Thato Chwaane. The multi-million pula hospital was recently opened in July after undergoing renovations.

Significantly, this workshop comes at a time when society’s ignorance over mental health issues has encouraged stigma against those suspected to suffer from mental illness.

In some villages in Botswana, there are people with mental health who have been abandoned by their families and left to fend for themselves after ‘starting to behave in a strange way’.

Some of these are people already established professionally and were bread winners in their families. Some are lawyers, head-teachers or even nurses. Yet when they started experiencing mental problems, their families abandoned them, refusing to be associated with them.

These people usually end up on the streets looking dirty and eating rotten food from the dustbins, while some of them roam the streets naked. Children laugh at them and throw stones at them while the adults make fun of them. Stigma from society has caused them to be treated like outsiders in the communities they grew up in.

Fortunately for those with people who could care enough to transport them, there is a place where they can be taken to live in dignity. The Lobatse mental hospital, in existence before independence, takes in people with mental health issues and cares for their needs at government’s expense.

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