Lack of basic necessities amongst people living in suburban areas increases their risk of developing mental problems, a study by St John of God College of Health Sciences in Mzuzu reveals.
The college presented findings of the research at Masasa on Thursday.
The research study titled ‘Community Needs Health Assessment’ conducted this year (2015) in Masasa Township in the city has revealed that two in every five families survive on either one or two meals a day without breakfast.
According to the Coordinator of Academic Programmes at the institution, Isaac Cheke Ziba, if a person does not eat sufficiently, he or she cannot think positively as it becomes hard for them to have peace of mind.
“Every human needs to eat adequately. We don’t just eat to satisfy the lust of our stomachs, but these essential foods contain vital vitamins that usually help us to think properly.
“How can you have a peaceful sleep when you are hungry? A hungry man is always an angry and worried man. Do you expect a person in such a condition to effectively contribute to the development of their communities and the country as whole?” wondered Ziba.
In the case of expectant mothers not taking foods which contain all the six food groups, he said it can obviously affect the unborn child and chances that the child will develop mental problems sooner or later in their lifetime are high.
The institution’s (St John of God College of Health Sciences) study has also revealed that most suburban dwellers spend many hours of the day fetching water for domestic purposes since most of them do not have access to potable water.
Most residents rely on firewood and charcoal for cooking which are very scarce in Masasa. The academic programmes coordinator also said the study findings had revealed that the residents spend a lot of energy looking for firewood and water even when they have hardly eaten anything.
“To make matters worse, you will find that a person has not eaten in the morning, yet he or she is diverting lots of their energies in search for basic items such as water and firewood,” he said.
He observed that with such living conditions, individuals are at higher risk of developing mental problems because they do not have enough time to rest or do business to uplift their livelihood.
Apart from training health workers, St John of God College of Health Sciences also provides counseling and treatment to people with mental problems.