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Researchers Urged to Address Gaps in Uganda’s Mental Health Policies

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As mental health issues continue to rise in Uganda, researchers are being urged to address gaps in existing policies and programs, particularly those concerning men’s mental health.

According to the 2021 Ministry of Health statistics, 4.6% of men in Uganda suffer from depression, while 3.7% experience anxiety. These numbers are expected to increase.

Additionally, data from the Uganda National Drug Authority in 2021 indicate that 7.1% of men suffer from substance abuse, slightly higher than the global rate of 6.2%.

Dr. Richard S. Mpango, a psychiatrist and senior lecturer at the School of Health Sciences, Soroti University, emphasized the need for researchers to address gaps especially in the Uganda Mental Health Policy.

He highlighted areas such as the lack of specificity on men’s mental health, insufficient data and research, inadequate integration into primary health care, and the absence of community-based interventions and support systems. Dr. Mpango also pointed out the need for gender-specific training for health workers.

“It’s important for researchers to know that without a proper policy framework, implementation will face significant challenges, ultimately not benefiting Ugandans,” he asserted.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being where individuals realize their potential, cope with normal life stresses, work productively, and contribute to their community.

At the Holistic Approach to Men’s Mental Health webinar, organized by the Busoga Health Forum on Friday, several factors affecting men’s mental health were identified, including poverty, unemployment, lack of education, living conditions, access to resources, community violence, and genetic predisposition.

The WHO’s 2019 report indicated that mental health issues can lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism, and presenteeism in the workplace. The webinar emphasized strategies such as engaging local leaders and media to reduce stigma, regular workshops and refresher courses, and establishing peer support networks in communities.

Common mental health issues among men in Uganda include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and stress-related disorders, which often lead to physical health problems. The hierarchy of mental health issues among men includes cultural pressures, relationship conflicts, and lack of access to mental health services.

The 2020 Ministry of Health report linked chronic stress and anxiety to a 30% increase in heart disease among men. Researchers from Harvard Medical School have also found that chronic stress can lead to hypertension and a weakened immune system.

Prioritizing positive mental health leads to better coping skills, improved relationships, and higher productivity, underscoring the importance of addressing mental health for both men and women in Uganda.

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Researchers Urged to Address Gaps in Uganda’s Mental Health Policies

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