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NGO developing app for sharing mental health challenges


Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Owing to the stigma around mental health that some people stay away from seeking care, a local NGO is developing an app that helps link users with service providers and also enable them share their stories without revealing their identity.

Pat Robert Larubi, an official of mental health advocacy organization – Mental Health Uganda said they will soon release the app for general use.

He said the decision of coming with an app to give those suffering hope was reached following recent reports of suicide for instance where many of the victims first posted something on social media before taking their own life.

Even though some experts note that over reliance on social media is fueling some mental illnesses, Larubi says there are ways technology can help when it comes to linking up with those that need care especially when used as a center where one can find a message of hope by reading about others with the same challenges or worse.

With suicide as a mental health issue alone, the World Health Organization says one person takes their own life every 40 seconds and that over 800,000 people commit suicide every year.

In Uganda mental illness is still treated with a lot of stereotype and ignorance with many who have mental illness running to traditional shrines and religious entities as its still treated as bad omen or witchcraft other than a medical condition that needs professional intervention.

Globally, Uganda ranks 68th in the world on the suicide watch list.  However, some experts say Uganda could be ranking higher for a lot of people who die are never recorded because of the fact that they are often secluded for fear of traditional beliefs around the issue.

Janet Kantarama, a psychologist for instance worries that the number of people for Uganda at 9% prevalence of suicide might increase with the increase in other mental illnesses such as depression and drug and alcohol addiction.

Already she notes in line with the World Health Organization finding that suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years, after road injury in 2018 globally, the picture could be the same for Uganda especially that all the recent cases of suicide that were popular on social media were of the youth.

All, avenues for increasing awareness and encouraging sufferers to speak up including an app, experts say can help save some lives.



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