14 million mentally ill, many in prolonged grief

“Grief is such a difficult one. Thanks for sharing this article,” commented Guardian Lane in reaction to my blog post titled: “Tears of an orphan,”  which I shared on Linkedln with the following introduction:

“Coping with grief sometimes includes being able to talk about it or to write about it. And so I write. Often overcoming grief takes a really long time; and even then, it is foolhardy to think that we can overcome it 100 percent. It doesn’t help when as one grieves one is thrown curve balls of unexpected horrors. When this happens, it is important that one has an anchor or anchors – friends, family, faith, great legal team – that assure a life line or life lines to steady one and not allow one to be washed away by the storm. So, while I am doing battle with devastating and traumatizing events post my father’s death, I consider myself lucky. Lucky that I have friends, family and faith that are the wind beneath my wind.”

Norah Owaraga on LinkedIn

According to its LinkedIn profile, Guardian Lane is:

“A children’s mental health platform that is innovating how children access grief counseling. Children watch, create, and share creative grief projects together, creating their own social healing network. Featured counselors are also available for 1:1 tele-counseling sessions. Starting with bereavement counseling, we will soon introduce videos + services for children affected by divorce, bullying, military separation and foster care.”

Guardian Lane LinkedIn profile

In our country in which the services offered by Guardian Lane are rare if at all, this has me reflecting on the lived realities behind the disturbing screaming media headlines recently heralding the sad news of how a Ministry of Health report surmised that 14 million Ugandans are mentally sick; and that the number of mentally sick Ugandans could actually be higher. I have a feeling that many of us in Uganda who are likely afflicted with mental illness didn’t think us included among the 14 million.

You know, for example, the hundreds of Ugandans who may be experiencing prolonged grief after loosing our loved ones because the pandemic – our loved ones died because they got infected and or though not infected, they were unable to access medical care. Yes, because of the pandemic, we couldn’t get closure through traditional burial norms and practices. We were expected to be understanding that there is a pandemic and sack it up.

Worse still, for some of us, as we worked through our grief to get closure – we were hit by fraudsters tarnishing the legacies of our loved ones and are attempting to take away from us our inheritance. Now, instead of working towards finding peace we are pushed into “prolonged grief disorder”, which medical experts recognise as a mental health condition. Our tormentors have pushed us into a state of mind in which we are prone to anxiety attacks, chronic fatigue, depression and the like.

What is the more disturbing in the case of Uganda, is that it is likely that the 14 million recognised as with mental ill-health don’t include those afflicted with prolonged grief disorder. Sincerely, how would we know, when our population of 40 million people is served by only 30 psychiatrists?

One response to “14 million mentally ill, many in prolonged grief”

  1. Reblogged this on nowaraga.com and commented:

    Dear President Museveni, please do not sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. Please hid the advice of the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (ODPP) that we are not in need of a new law, but rather, we have the option of amending the penal code.

    Mr. President, the ODPP has also indicated that the bill if made into law is legally technically flawed. And, besides, there are already laws in place for which the penal code can be amended to accommodate the nuances in the flawed Anti-Homosexuality bill.

    For example, there are laws which deal with assault, rape, sexual relations with a minor, etc., for which the penal code can be amended to specify the nature of sexual offences related to homosexuality.

    What the flawed Anti-Homosexuality bill achieves, Mr. President, if you authorize it into law, is significant trauma to us, the people. The propensity is high for it to be abused by our tormentors – jilted lovers, political opponents, disgruntled employers and employees, and others.

    And, sincerely, Mr. President, scientifically speaking, people who are homosexuals aren’t the majority of Ugandans – this is a fact demographically. It also seems to me that the focus of our members of parliament (MPs) is on man-to-man sexual intercourse – with them lamenting about “ripped anuses”.

    Mr. President, what are the facts here – how many men and boys are known to have gotten “ripped anuses” on account of sexual intercourse here in Uganda and in what period? What is the empirical data. Where is it so we may subject it to scientific intellectual discourse for the greater good.

    Am not saying they are not there, but let us be real. If the Anti-Homosexuality bill becomes law, what is the likelihood that victims of homosexual crimes will speak out?

    It is already hard for women and girls to speak out against heterosexual sexual and gender-based violence meted out against us. Well, the Anti-Homosexuality bill, now before you, Mr. President, is simply going to make the situation worse.

    It is already scaring victims of sexual crimes to stay mute; and the resultant effect will be an increase in mental ill-health among your bazukulu; which mental ill-health out country has insufficient capacity to manage.

    Mr. President, please re-consider and take the route proposed by the ODPP – don’t sign the Anti-Homosexuality bill in to law. Send it back to Parliament with instructions for it to be legally accommodated through the amendment of the penal code.


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