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Oshakati Hospital Mental Health Board inaugurated

Oshakati Hospital Mental Health Board inaugurated

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Hon Dr Kalumbi Shangula recently inaugurated the Mental Health Board for the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital, one of the state facilities serving a large portion of the population, to address the multiple factors associated with an individual’s mental state.

One of the primary objectives for Mental Health Board members is to visit each institution to which they have been assigned at least once every two months.

“On such visits, the Board shall allow every patient in the facility to make in-person any representations that patients may wish to make to the Board. The Board is also responsible for investigating any reasonable complaint or grievance made to it by a patient. The Board is obliged to report to the minister any visit to an institution and shall comment on and make such suggestions concerning the welfare of the patients in any institution concerning which the Board has been established,” Shangula noted, adding that limited requisite spaces to accommodate patients with mental health challenges remain one of the main challenges facing our country.

The minister expressed his enthusiasm for collaborating with the board members, noting that “too often we hear and read about disheartening reports of the magnitude of challenges confronting mental health issues in the country.”

“This is evident in the number of mental health-related incidents affecting all demographics and all parts of our country. The statistics on suicides and attempted suicides, cases of depression and psychosis, and related conditions are disquieting,” Shangula asserted.

“There are multiple factors associated with the mental state of individuals. The spring fountains of these factors are complex and require careful analysis to understand and unpack. The history of our country, punctuated by trauma, conflict, oppression, and deprivation, cannot be disregarded. It is part and parcel of what manifests in some of the incidents we see today displayed by people with signs of mental health. Additionally, the misuse of substances such as alcohol and illicit drug abuse are contributing factors to the mental illness challenges in our country,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Ministry has implemented various measures to address mental health concerns in collaboration with stakeholders. These initiatives include raising public awareness about mental health, improving access to mental health services, assisting people and families affected by mental health conditions, and integrating mental health into primary care.

“Mental health services have historically lagged behind other medical health services. Mental health has not been a field of choice for specialization for health professionals. Fortunately, more doctors, nurses, social workers, and other professionals have started to seek and undergo training in various mental health specialties in recent years.” The minister stated that this was motivated by the realization that the need for mental health care is rising exponentially.

The Ministry encourages community-based initiatives involving civil society organizations, faith-based organizations, local authorities traditional leadership structures, households, and concerned citizens in collaboration with other stakeholders.

“The legislation dealing with mental health matters is out of date. As a result, the Ministry started drafting the Mental Health Bill, with input from national consultations, experts, and practitioners. The Bill is undergoing due legal processes, such as drafting the Regulations, and will be tabled in Parliament in due time,” Shangula said.


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