Poor funding crippling mental health services in Malawi

A mental health specialist says inadequate funding is one of the factors which is crippling delivery of mental health services in the country.

Zomba Mental Hospital

Speaking last week at Chiwaza in Nkhata Bay District during World Mental Health Commemoration Day, Director of Zomba Mental Hospital, Immaculate Chamangwana said her department does not have adequate psychiatric drugs and infrastructure required for management of the mentally ill patients.

“These challenges are attributed to low funding toward mental health services,” said Chamangwana.

She said that mental cases are on the increase in the country hence the need for government to consider providing enough resources for improved mental health services.

“Mental health services are only allocated four percent of the total budget meant for the Ministry of Health and Population,” she explained.

She disclosed that Zomba Mental Hospital is always overwhelmed with increased number of patients, saying most of them are youths.

“In a day we receive over 30 patients and many of these patients, are youths and this a worrisome development to the nation,” Chamangwana said.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, the Chief of Health Services, Dr. Charles Mwansambo called for concerted efforts if the mental health cases are to be reduced in the country.

He said the day is commemorated as one of the means of creating awareness to stakeholders on mental health issues hence the need for government, international and non-governmental organizations to work together in addressing the challenge.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Blessings Chipeta who survived mental illness said that mental health patients need adequate support from family members and medical professionals.

“Some mental health arises from stress and depression so there is need for family members to ensure that such patients do not face such situations,” said Chipeta adding that it is possible for the people with mental illnesses to get cured especially when they are provided enough care and support.

He said he developed the illness due to stress after getting 17 points but he was not admitted into the University of Malawi.

The day is commemorated on 10 October every year and this year’s theme was ‘Every young people and mental health in a changing world’.

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