Kunene lacks resources for mental health interventions

Residents of Kunene, particularly young people, suffer from mental illness, and the region lacks the resources needed to implement an effective mental health strategy, relying instead on the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital.

This was said by Daniel Kaveta, a community liaison officer in the Department of Disability Affairs of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, in an interview with Nampa on Monday.

Kaveta stated that even though the region is making every effort to provide for mental patients, including counselling, there are still not enough facilities to handle the rising population in need of help.

According to him, the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital, which now accepts 2000 inpatients and cares for 15 000 outpatients in its mental department each year, is under immense pressure as a result of the situation at other Kunene healthcare facilities.

There are 140 beds in total at the Oshakati ward, housing 58 female and 82 male patients, he said, stressing that more family members and guardians are now registering mental patients owing to the ministry's various community engagement initiatives, as opposed to the past when they used to keep them in captivity and bondage out of fear of being stigmatised.

“Our people have now advanced through these engagements unlike in the past when they used to think that every mental problem was because of witchcraft. Back then, mental patients used to be kept in captivity like animals, some even went to the extent of physically restraining their loved ones by chaining them, but through our educational initiatives, they have stopped,” he noted.

Meanwhile, during a media conference here last week, Kaveta said traditional drinks like 'okandjembo' and excessive drug usage among young people are two major contributors to the region's mental health issues.

“Mental health issues in young people frequently coexist with additional health and behavioural hazards, such as a higher risk of drug use and alcohol consumption, particularly with traditional home-brewed drinks. This drink is quite affordable, and most people can afford it and it quickly gets addictive,” he said.

Kaveta did not provide information on the number of patients the regional healthcare facilities see, but indicated that more than 10 patients are registered at the various facilities each month.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency