Speaking during a two-day annual Malawi Mental Research and Practice Development Conference at College of Medicine in the commercial city, Blantyre, chairperson of the association Orpheuse Chipata said their members are struggling to access drugs in health facilities.
â€œIf we are talking of users, we mean people who have mental challenges whereas carers are the ones providing care to those with mental health challenges,â€ he said.
Chipata said the group, which was recently launched, will advocate the rights of persons living with challenges such as mental health.
â€œUsers face a lot of challenges and some are looked at by society as a source of entertainment. Some throw stones at them, others are even mistreated in prisons or hospitals.
â€œWhat we are saying is that we should recognise the users. We will ensure that carers use their responsibility to take them to the hospitals,â€ said Chipata.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Charles Mwansambo said out of 13 million people in Malawi, approximately 130 000 will have severe mental illness in the form of psychosis at some point in their life, whereas 1.3 million (10 percent) will suffer from depression and 10 percent of children will have mental health problems.
Mwansambo said in 2002, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that depression is the fourth leading cause of disability in Malawi coming after HIV and Aids, cataracts and malaria.
The conference brought together local and international experts on mental health and general health development.