Dr. Juliet Nakku, the hospital director of Butabika Hospital has confirmed that the hospital has received a record 1,500 cases this year alone compared to the usual average of 500 patients annually.
In August this year, Dr. Nakku said that there had been a considerable strike in the mental health illnesses in Uganda due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August 2020, the 550 capacity bed hospital had shot to over 1,000 people due to the lockdown.
The numbers therefore indicate that an increase of over 500 mental health cases has been recorded in just about 3 months.
Mental health illnesses include: stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), epilepsy and psychosis etc. Signs and symptoms can range from quick mood changes and lack of sleep to suicidal thoughts and seizures.
Butabika National referral hospital commonly known as Butabika hospital, located in Kampala, is the only mental health National referral hospital for the whole of Uganda’s estimated population of 40 million people.
Juliet said that the numbers kept on increasing as the government eased the lockdown where they recorded a substantial number of relapses for those that had been on treatment but couldn’t access drugs at the height of lockdown.
For her, a lot more effort is needed in ensuring that those in need of mental health care get it to avoid a mental health crisis.
With the rates of suicide and suicide attempts shooting to record highs due to the pandemic, Nakku urges the public to regard mental health as an important aspect of their general health. One of the key issues she says is awareness which explains why they commemorate the mental health day.