A study in Mzimba shows almost half of people with mental illnesses are not accessing health services in hospitals due to lack of knowledge and widespread cultural beliefs.
The findings by student nurses at St John of God College of Health Sciences were unveiled in Mzuzu on Friday.
Catherine Mwale, head of nursing department at the college, said the country needs to step up efforts to promote a culture of seeking healthcare services.
“The clients we see in hospitals are fewer than those in communities. Our students identified several people who have symptoms of mental illnesses, but keep such illnesses in homes because they don’t know that they can be treated,” she said.
The new evidence shows slightly over 50 percent of the mental patients the researchers came across had never visited a hospital.
They either assisted the cases or referred them to the hospital.
Their mental conditions improved between two and three weeks, confirming that they are treatable.
Group village head Lukhanda, from the territory under study, said the locals often seek the assistance of herbalists because they associate mental illnesses with witchcraft. n