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Rwot Acana Task Gov’t On Mental Health Crisis

Paramount Chief Rwot Onen David Acana II giving his speech during the graduation for second and third intake 2023 of the Acholi Sub-region Presidential Industrial Hub in Oding Village, Onyama sub- county in Gulu CIty on the 19th April 2024. Photo by PPU/Tony Rujuta.

By Tolit Ivan

Rwot David Onen Acana II, the Paramount Chief of Acholi has tasked the government do more in tackling mental health problems in the former war-ravaged sub-region.

Rwot Acana noted that the problem has reached a crisis level, stressing that the government needs to come in and support those affected by the war.

Acana says communities in Acholi sub-region are facing unprecedented challenges as they recover from the effects of over two decades’ long insurgency.

He warned that unless the problem is treated with the urgency it deserves, the sub-region is likely to explode.

Mental health experts have linked the rampant cases of mental illness in the Acholi sub-region to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to experts, the LRA- led violence in Northern Uganda left hundreds of civilians traumatized as a result of what they experienced during the war.

On June, 8, 2024, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced its first-ever mental health-focused project in Uganda, providing funding to the tune of 1 million dollars.

A statement released by the US Mission in Uganda on Thursday indicates that the three-year project will be implemented by an NGO Strong Minds, where they will focus on building local evidence-based mental health and development in addition to increasing locally available, evidence-informed, affordable mental health services by training community members in how to effectively deliver these services. 

This funding comes at a time when Uganda is battling an increasing mental illness crisis with studies showing millions of Uganda to be living with a form of mental illness either knowingly or unknowingly. 

Data from 2020 and 2022 show that Uganda is ranked among the top six African countries in rates of depressive disorders and has the second-highest suicide rate among East African males ages 18-35.

The statement points out that people living with untreated mental health issues are statistically less physically healthy, have lower economic and academic achievement, and are more likely to be crime victims and to be recruited into criminal or extremist activity.

Unaddressed mental health issues can harm individuals, families, and societies, and considerably influence development results.  

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