Protect mental patients from stigma, says DSD

Written by on August 10, 2019


COMMUNITIES should not discriminate against those on mental health medication because everyone is at risk of the condition, says Disability and Social Development (DSD) specialist Mwiya Mwiya.

Mr Mwiya said that most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in Zambia were those to do with depression, alongside other neuropsychiatric disorders relating to drug and alcohol abuse.

According to a paper presented in April 2017 by Dr Ravi Paul, Head of Department of Psychiatry, University Teaching Hospital, Zambia, and Dr Subodh Dave, Associate Dean, Trainee Support, Derby, UK, the risk of mortality to mental health is significantly increased by the stigma attached to mental illness, high unemployment and socio-economic difficulties.

And in an interview, Mr Mwiya said every individual within the community was a potential mental health patient, and those who need psychiatrist help should not be looked down upon.

“Every individual in the community regardless of their social standing is prone to having different kinds of illnesses which include mental health,

“ Not too long ago people with tuberculosis were discriminated against but today people are able to take related medicines without fear because it has been accepted,” Mr Mwiya said.

Mr Mwiya said the in the same way, Zambia needed to reach a point where people with mental illness were not exposed to stigma and could take their medication without fear of how the community would perceive them.

He said it was vital that mental health patients took their medicine without feeling ashamed.

 “Most people associate medicines for mental health and psychiatrist conditions to people picking rubbish from the streets which should not be the case,” he said.

He said the stigma against mental health needed to be overcome as mental health disorders were curable just like most common diseases like malaria.

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