Malawi to increase awareness on mental health

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By Florence Mwale

Malawi on Thurday joins the rest of the world in commemorating mental health day.

The day was set aside by the World Federation for Mental Health with the aim of raising awareness for mental health and campaigning against stigma.

According to a statement signed by Charles Mwansambo, who is Chief of Health Services, activities for the day are expected to be held in Dowa district.

This year, the day is being commemorated under the theme: Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention.

Mwansambo explains that the theme is important as it addresses the value of promoting mental health and also prevention of suicide.

Apart from that, it also brings to attention the problems the young and adults in the country are facing and how best they can be tackled.

The World Health Organisation estimates that globally, eight hundred thousand people die from suicide each year.

This represents one death every 40 seconds.

Ninety percent of such deaths have been found to be in connection to clinical mental illness, which can be diagnosed and treated.

In Malawi, a STEPS survey done in 2017 revealed that seven percent of the population contemplated suicide and 5.4 percent attempted it, while three percent went through with the act.

Suicide is currently the leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds in the country.

Psychologist Eric Umar emphasizes on the need for people to seek help once they notice that a friend or relative is contemplating on taking his or her own life.

The removal of stigma towards mental health issues can help prevent suicide in the country, where a week does not go by without hearing of a suicide case.

Society also needs to open up on issues pertaining to mental health in order to prevent more cases of suicide in the future.



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