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To have mental illness or HIV?

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CALL FOR ACTION: Shathani Rampa

Some Batswana would rather be infected with HIV/AIDS than have a mental illness, a study undertaken by Psychology Department at the University of Botswana (UB) has revealed.

Presenting the results of the qualitative study concerning the stigma to HIV and mental illness in Botswana at a seminar held at UB recently, Neuropsychologist and Lecturer in the Psychology Department UB, Shathani Rampa said majority of people interviewed said being diagnosed with HIV was better because treatment was readily available and easily accessible compared to treatment for mental illness.

And unless you tell people, no one can know you have the virus unlike with mental illness.Moreover, people with mental illness were commonly characterised as being dangerous, cognitively impaired, unpredictable, untrustworthy, sickly and unkempt, naked or improperly dressed.“Many felt being a mental health patient was as good as being an ex-convict from prison, you are never trusted or depended on by society ever again,” she shared.

According to Rampa, the study which was conducted in June 2017 in Gaborone showed that there was still a lot of misunderstanding on mental health, what it looks like and that the stigma was driven by this lack of understanding. She said this highlighted the need to increase public awareness on mental health issues.Furthermore Rampa said: “Treatment for mental, neurological disorders is an uphill task in our country where resource allocation for mental health is low, pushing the number of mental health cases up.

“There should be at least one psychiatric nurse in every clinic nationwide, but that is not the case. A patient in Gantsi for example has to travel all the way to Maun to get help.” The country’s entire population is served by one psychiatric hospital, Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital located in Lobatse, with only 7.1 acute psychiatric hospital beds, and 0.29 psychiatrists per 100,000 people according to the World Health Organisation [WHO], 2015.

This and the difficulty in re-integrating mentally ill patients back into society is what is at the heart of lack of adherence to medications and the high rates of relapses experienced, according to Rampa.Recovery from mental illness, Rampa said, is possible, what is needed is for government and society to create an enabling environment.Mental disorders are common and include depression, anxiety, bipolar, attention deficit hyperactivity, among others.

Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Institute of Health Sciences in Lobatse and Co-Founder of Embrace Emotions Support Network (EESN), David Mangwegape explained that although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, research indicates that mental disorders are brain disorders caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors.

“To put it simply, mental disorders are a product of disruption in the communication of the nerves of the brains called neurotransmitters. If they do not function well, then the disorder occurs,” said Mangwegape. Whereas biology plays a role in determining who gets a mental disorder and who does not, Mangwegape adds that socialisation and the environment will affect the manifestation and severity of the illness.

And according to him, Depression is the common most diagnosed mental health illness in Botswana with women being the most affected largely because of their low socio-economic status and issues of violence against them. “We also have an emerging number of substance use disorders, many male youth are affected and this could be attributed to high unemployment rate and failure to resolve relationship issues amicably,” he said.

Some people who develop a mental illness may recover completely; others may have repeated episodes of illness with relatively stable periods in between. Still others live with symptoms of mental illness every day. They can be moderate or serious and can cause severe disability.According to WHO, half of all mental health illnesses begin around the age of 14, with most cases going undetected and untreated. Among adolescents, depression is the third leading mental health illness.

In addition, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Focusing on the African continent, the global needs for mental health care are gradually becoming more visible, but such needs remain inadequately addressed, according to a report by Doctors without Borders. “A lack of services, data and awareness around mental health issues will inevitably further exacerbate the situation among African youth,” it said.

The “Its when the Trees Blossom” Explanatory beliefs, Stigma and Mental health in the context of Botswana research study, was done through the support of Penn Mental Health AIDS Research Centre (PMHARC) and Botswana-UPenn Partnership (BUP). In-depth semi-structured interviews were done with 42 respondents from a public HIV clinic, a public mall, and a community centre.

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Church distances itself from Pastor who livestreamed his suicide

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Head Pastor at Metsimotlhabe Holiness Union Church France Koosimile has distanced his church from Phenyo Godfrey who committed suicide live on social media a week ago. Speaking to this publication this week, Koosimile said Godfrey was never a Pastor at Holiness church as assumed by many.

Godfrey, who goes by the name Bishop P Godfrey on social media, allegedly shot a video of himself committing suicide on Sunday evening. According to a few friends and those close to Godfrey, the deceased was from Molepolole and has been identified as a pastor at Holiness Union Church in Metsimotlhabe.

On the evening  of Sunday last week, he went live on Facebook and proceeded to put a rope around his neck. He was seen in the short video hanging by the neck until he took his last breath. TO READ THE FULL STORY, BUY THIS WEEK’S (11 August 2021)  PRINT EDITION OF THE MIDWEEK SUN AT A STORE NEAR YOU.

 

 

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Women challenged to step-up food production

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National Development Bank CEO, Lorato Morapedi has challenged women to take up more agribusiness ventures to cut down on the country’s food import bill.
With an annual P7 billion food import bill hanging over the country, Morapedi said women can significantly trim it down. “We need to get out of our comfort zones, let’s open our eyes and seize the opportunities,” said Morapedi, adding that women need to work in groups.
She emphasized that women should leverage on collective expertise found in clusters to grow the country’s food production sector.
“Grab the opportunities that exist with the food value chain,” she said, citing that women have been hard-hit by COVID-19 in their endeavors to put food on the table.
She further implored women not to shy away from finance development institutions (FDIs) to finance their projects. Morapedi bemoaned that a handful people are willing to go into food production despite the high import food bill that the country faces.
Very few people are doing food production; people are lazy to go into food production,” said Morapedi. She also highlighted that the country’s major supplier, South Africa is also not coping as COVID-19 challenges unravel.
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