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Confronting Mental Health in Sub-Saharan Africa

mental health in sub-Saharan AfricaIn sub-Saharan Africa, where communicable diseases are common, mental disorders make up about 10 percent of the total burden of disease, according to the World Health Organization. There has been little research related to mental health in poorer countries in comparison to the investment in non-mental health.

There are multiple factors that affect the lack of treatment and preventive strategies for mental disorders: financial scarcity, unqualified staff and a lack of effective public health policy. However, there are effective measures that can help with the prevalence of mental health in sub-Saharan Africa.

There is a connection between the mental and physical health of an individual. Poor mental health can negatively impact physical health because it can increase the risk of chronic diseases or simply leave an individual feeling incapable of taking care of their wellbeing. By improving mental health in sub-Saharan Africa, there could be a noticeable increase in overall health as well.

For example, one effort is through the collaboration of “research institutions and ministries of health in Uganda, Ethiopia, India, Nepal and South Africa, with partners in Britain and the WHO that was formed in 2011 to expand mental health services in low and middle-income countries”, according to the Rand Corporation.

The main goal of this project is to measure how impactful mental health programs would be in primary healthcare settings such as hospitals and clinics. An area like sub-Saharan Africa would be included in the range of countries that require the expansion of mental health services.

Generating more research and elaborating on the issue of mental health is vitally important because it means that the right resources will be assigned towards addressing the needs of those with a mental illness. It will also be important in the future to increase funding for mental health programs and for the international community and national government to contribute to the above factors that affect the lack of treatment and preventive strategies for mental disorders.

Collaboration is necessary in order to obtain all of the tools for combating mental health in sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the entire world.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr