Helpline launched to Increase Access to Mental Health Support

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • May 19, 2021

The World Health Organisation has ranked suicide as the second leading cause of death for young people aged between 15 and 29 years of age. We have seen many university kids and other young people losing their lives because of poor mental health.

It is also true that many people in low- and middle-income countries face daily challenges, and their mental health has been additionally burdened by COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental health is an active state of mind which enables a person to use their abilities in coordination with the common human tenets of society (Galderisi, Heinz, Kastrup, Beezhold, and Sartorius, 2015). Mental health is the pivot of human life. However, despite its importance, it is often the least prioritized amongst health conditions. In low- and medium-income countries like Uganda where disease, ignorance, and poverty are common, a demand for a steadfast mental healthcare can seem a luxury (WHO, 2019).

Mental Health Uganda has joined the Ministry of health in setting up a toll-free line to manage patient cases in over eight (8) districts –  Northern Region: Gulu and Lira districts; Central Region: Mpigi and Kampala districts; Eastern Region: Soroti and Mbale districts; Western Region: Mbarara and Kanungu districts to ensure access to information on available services and support to anyone with any mental health problem.

It is quite absurd that mental health, although known to be a very vital issue, is one of the most unrecognised health issues in Uganda today. More to that, Uganda boasts of about 43 psychiatrists only, in a country of over 44 million people.

“Many people seeking mental health services end up being referred to private health facilities with mental health services where they are also charged exorbitantly due to inadequate staffing,” said Derrick Kiiza, the Executive Director of Mental Health Uganda.

The newly launched helpline therefore comes a long way in trying to fix the mental health challenges that we face today.

The toll-free national phone counselling service targets young persons (15-35 years) with mental health issues and their potential caretakers, providing counselling over the phone.  Project staff then assess the extent of the metal health issues and refer callers to appropriate services within their respective regions.

The toll-free number that will be in service on Monday – Friday from 8:30AM to 6PM is 0800212121. This was officially launched by Dr. Hafsa from the Ministry of Health last week.

If you are experiencing excessive fears, anxiety, mental breakdown from books or relationships, don’t die in silence – ping the toll-free number (0800212121) for help and support.