Malawi is facing serious mental health problems and there is need to train more personnel in the field.
St John of God College of Health Sciences programme manager Charles Masulani Mwale said it is only through collective effort that the country can reduce the problem.
â€œMalawi, just like many countries in the developing world, is grappling with serious mental health problems. Other commentators have referred to this as a mental bomb that we are comfortably sitting on, without realising its consequences in the near future,â€ said Mwale.
He was speaking at the collegeâ€™s campus during the graduation of students. Four students received certificates in psychosocial counselling, 16 got diplomas, 11 got bachelor of science degrees in mental health psychiatric nursing whereas 24 received bachelor of science degrees in clinical medicine (mental health).
Mwale warned that health problems contribute significantly to the burden of diseases, adding that 14 percent of global diseases can be attributed to mental health.
He recalled that rates of suicide cases are high.
â€œFactors associated with suicide include all mental illnesses, especially depression, social isolation, hopelessness, alcoholism and gender inequality,â€ he said.
He disclosed that Malawi is using a Mental Health Act drafted in 1960s and that another one drafted in 2004 awaits stakeholdersâ€™ consultation.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malawi Dr Emmanuel Fabiano said the graduation of mental health and psychosocial service providers will create a more definite place for mental health promotion.
Mzuzu University Acting Vice-Chancellor Associate Professor Orton Msiska noted that increasing the number of trained health personnel at district and health centres has remained a challenge in the Malawi health sector.
Msiska told the gathering when the idea of the training programme was mooted, Malawi had one state psychiatric and three mental health clinical officers to manage 13 million people.
St John of God College of Health Sciences opened in 2003 to train health personnel in mental health.