Persons with mental illness are the most neglected

By William Madouk Garang

Persons with psychosocial problems are said to be the most neglected group by society and the government in the country, this is according to Augustino Wudu, the chairperson of the South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities (SSUPD).

The report indicated that unconfirmed numbers of South Sudanese are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental ailments caused by protracted conflict and violence.

Mr. Wudu was speaking in a workshop organized by SSUPD with funding from Humanity and Inclusion, to create mental health awareness among society and psychosocial support, under the theme “mental health for all”

“The people with psychosocial problems are left behind, they are ignored in the society, and in fact, they are the most marginalized group of people,”Wudu noted.

“We conclude that these people are mad, and they become a burden in the society and also sometimes seen as a threat. That’s why sometimes even the family members can’t bother to cater to them and they are abandoned. That’s why they decide to go to streets [or] even they can move from area to area,” he added.

He underscored that people with mental illness are sadly chained up and taken to prisons due to the nonexistence of asylums, he added that this needs joint hands from all stakeholders plus the government to cater to these people.

Director of Kator Block who also represents the mayor of Juba City, Felix John Logwurusaid the workshop would equip people with knowledge and help to change bad perceptions toward people with mental illness.

“I appreciated the SSUPD for having organized this workshop to create awareness because most of our people and population are not aware of the persons with psychosocial needs. My message is, you participate and let us change bad perception by creating awareness of equal participation for harmonious social organization,” Logwuru stressed.

Humanity Inclusion officer, Obate Musa William said they have chosen the topic of mental health because they have seen a surge in mental illness caused by drug abuse, stress, trauma and depression among others.

“When someone already has some kind of mental illness, in the family sometimes that person is chased away from the house and taken to prisons, and maybe harassed or mistreated which is happening,”William said.

“But now, this session is to educate them such that they should know that, yes! This thing exists, when someone has got kind of mental illness, this person needs to be taken care of through counseling at an early stage to help bring that person back to his/her normal senses,” he added.

According to South Sudan Medical Journal, the country has one of the largest mental health gaps in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that during humanitarian emergencies, rates of mental disorders can increase 4% for severe conditions and up to 20% for mild to moderate disorders requiring care and support.

 According to South Sudan Health Cluster projections, 5.1 million people are affected by the ongoing humanitarian emergency in the country.

That amounts to an estimated 204,000 people with severe and 1,020,000 people with mild to moderate mental health conditions in South Sudan.

It could be imputed to conditions resulting from the humanitarian situation. In contrast, current humanitarian efforts by various partners are reaching less than 10,000 people annually (1%). Therefore, the estimated mental health treatment gap among the population of humanitarian concern is staggering at 99%.

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