Written by Ivy Tunkete Mwanyongo:
Different stakeholders have raised a single voice on the urgent need for collaborative efforts to address alarming issues of mental health amongst youths in Nkhotakota district.
The concerns have come to light as Umunthu FM on Wednesday held the stakeholders meeting at Kaliba Beach Resort in alignment with the ongoing six-month Mental Matters campaign.
Among others, the stakeholders exchanged knowledge, shared experiences, and discussed efforts aimed at improving mental health in the district.
During his presentation, Nkhotakota District Hospital mental health Coordinator Peter Muthethe noted the increased number of people seeking support related to mental health problems at the facility.
Muthethe disclosed that last month, the hospital had 17 admissions and more than 100 people had reported to the clinic, which signifies that it is a major concern.
He explained that “the use of drugs and substance abuse is the contributing factor to most of the cases and that there is a need for a multi-disciplinary approach to address mental health as a whole”.
Concurring with Muthethe, the district’s youth officer Arberson Mwale acknowledged the existing gap in addressing these issues. He pointed out that there are currently no established guidelines or specific initiatives dedicated to tackling youth mental health problems in the district.
Mwale emphasized the need for more proactive measures, as there are no ongoing projects or initiatives solely focused on mental health, aside from information relayed by relevant district officials.
Whilst recommending Umunthu FM for the initiative, Mwale noted that there is a need for other stakeholders to initiate similar projects, if the issues are to be addressed.
Dorothy Chingayipe, Nkhotakota Police Station Community Policing Coordinator, shared her concerns about the rising number of cases related to mental health at the station.
She cited a notable example, with 22 cases of conduct likely to cause a breach of peace registered in the current month of September.
Chingayipe said, “Though we have been doing awareness campaigns in various communities around the district, there is a need for parents to take part in counseling the children”.
The stakeholders have noted the use of drugs amongst most youth as the root cause of most mental health issues in the district and the need for awareness messages in various communities towards the same.
Umunthu FM’s six-month Mental Health Matters campaign is funded by the Shift the Power program, a collaboration between the Tilitonse Foundation, Comic Relief, and UKAID.