Conflict, Instability cause mental illness in Somalia: UN

Posted on 04/02/2011


NAIROBI, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — Prolonged conflict and instability have largely impacted on the mental and psychological well-being of the Somali people, the UN health agency said on Wednesday. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three Somalis has been affected by some kind of mental illness, a prevalence which is higher than in other low-income and war-torn countries.

To have a better understanding of the mental health services within the country, WHO in Somalia produced a mental health situation analysis.

The document groups all crucial information on mental health in Somalia and is the result of a participatory process, which has engaged stakeholders through desk review work, group discussions, data collection, and consultative meetings both done in Somalia and at Nairobi level.

“Taking care of mental health patients shows the communities that mental illnesses can be treated effectively, without stigmatizing the patients,” said Dr Marthe Everard, WHO Representative for Somalia.

“Mental health is still seen as an isolated sector but should be integrated into primary health care. Interventions are not too difficult or costly, but the area is rather lacking resources and infrastructure.”

Many Somali’s have experienced beating, torture, rape or have been injured for life. Others witnessed horrific violence against family or friends.

Many Somalis with mental illness are socially isolated and vulnerable. The pain of this isolation is felt intensely because Somali culture is traditionally communal and family oriented.

“After two decades of conflict and fighting, this mental health situation analysis comes at the right time,” said Mark Bowden, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.

“The human rights of the persons with mental disorders and of their families cannot be neglected. We need to empower them to change the stigmatized image of mental illness, which is contaminated with images of violence, sin and laziness.”

The Somali health authorities are committed to the cause.

Full Report:$File/full_report.pdf

Wednesday, February 02, 2011