ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

State of Mental Health in Rural Africa

Updated on June 12, 2020
Melusi Jeisal Ngwenya profile image

Melusi Jeisal Ngwenya has a Degree in Social Psychology. Currently a post graduate at Richfield College

Mental Health vs Mental Illness

Mental health does not mean the same thing as Mental illness and Mental Health does not mean the absence of Mental Illness. World Health Organization elaborates that “in the course of a lifetime, one may never experience mental illness but everyone will have some challenges with mental health at some point in life”.

The issue of Mental Health has always been considered not so important in Africa especially in the rural areas. Most Health Care systems of countries in Africa they overlook the importance of mental health. As someone who was born and raised in Africa I think the issue of neglected mental health system has a strong link to Culture, Poverty, Literacy and Human Rights.

Poverty in Africa
Poverty in Africa | Source

Porverty

In rural parts of Africa people struggle to get their hands on the most basic things like Food, Clothing and Water so the issue of Mental Health will be the last on anyone’s list. With pandemics like HIV, TB and now Corona Virus the importance of Mental Wellness is further down on the hierarchy of needs. With outbreak of these diseases people go through depression and yet there are no counselling facilities. People usually get therapy or counselling from some family relative who has no skill at all in counselling.

Culture

Married Couple
Married Couple

In African culture, there are phrases like “Upenyu mutoro” which means “life is a burden”, people are brain washed to think that it is normal to be depressed and something terrible in life is always going to happen hence anxiety. Since growing up I realized that Mental disorders like Bipolar, Anxiety and Schizophrenia do not even have names in my African language which means even back in time no one put emphasis on Mental Health. Looking at some of the things that happen in African culture like child marriages where underage girls are married to older man, this has a lasting impact on the Mental Health of a child who has to go through the pressures of being a wife and a mother at a very young age.

Literacy

Most African countries have a low number of clinical psychologists compared to the population. The few that are available are usually placed in urban areas totally leaving out the people in rural areas. At some point a few years back, Zimbabwe had 13 Clinical Psychologists for a population of more than 14 million people. In both Rural and Urban parts of Africa there is still need for Mental Health awareness. Most people in Africa think that it is normal to be Bipolar or to have Anxiety because they lack the knowledge about mental wellness. Most people with these mental illnesses do not even know that they could be helped and life could be easier.

Human Rights Violation

Police beating a defenceless woman in Harare, Zimbabwe
Police beating a defenceless woman in Harare, Zimbabwe | Source

In their 2014 report, WHO estimates that globally, less than 5 percent of general government health expenditures are allocated to address mental health, and this figure is significantly less in lower-income countries (WHO, 2015). Simply put, mental health does not enjoy parity with physical health in terms of budgeting and attention, and this creates an unintended hierarchy where mental health is ranked lower than physical health. The OHCHR reports that in some countries, the only care available for mentally-ill individuals is in psychiatric institutions, and many of them are associated with significant human rights violations reflected in inhumane treatment and living conditions, such as shackling or locking up in confinement for extended periods of time.

Conclusion

In conclusion governments should priorities dealing with mental health issues and include it in Health Care System. Many people in Africa have gone through tough time mentally including Rape, Physical abuse, Political violence and Depression. Without the mental supoort they desperately need, these people end up commiting suicide or abusing drugs like Cocaine, Codeine, Cannabis etc. Considering this lose of life and potential in African youths, African governments need to improve and dedicate more resources of they health care to mental wellness programs. People need to know that they can rely on their health system for mental wellness issues. Mental wellness campaigns from both the government and the private entities should be a more common thing in Africa. People should be aware of therapy and how it can change one's life for the better

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Melusi Jeisal Ngwenya

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Vincent Mwanza 

      13 months ago

      Well articulated mental health is very slept on in Africa

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)