ISHAKA – Dr Benedict Akimana, the Kampala International University (KIU) Teaching Hospital Psychiatry Head of Department, has developed a 14-episode short video series describing the different types of mental illnesses, their presentation, management and prevention.
For purposes of awareness on how to tackle various mental health illnesses Dr Akimana releases a single episode every day, also in commemoration of the Mental Health Awareness Month which is May.
Mental Health Month was established in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives, and to celebrate recovery from mental illness.
During the month of May, America together with other countries in the world, dedicate this month to help raise awareness about mental health issues, promote good mental health practices, and encourage people to support others around them.
Speaking to Dr Akimana, he revealed that many people are facing mental health challenges worldwide, a situation that has been worsenedand by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I realized many people do not understand mental health, and they have a lot of myths surrounding mental illness, I hope the videos will help demystify it,” Dr Akimana said.
Therefore, as a mental health advocate, Dr Akimana has dedicated himself to creating video series, as a means of spreading awareness, in addition to his talks to corporate entities and on national television.
More to this, he has also created a YouTube channel aimed at creating awareness about mental health.
“Please feel free to watch, share and subscribe to the channel for more content,” Dr Akimana encouraged.
In this fight against mental illness, eight hospitals have been approved to conduct the assessment study on mental health.
This includes KIU Teaching Hospital and other hospitals including; Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in Western Uganda, Masaka and Mubende hospitals in the central region, Gulu and Lira hospitals in the North and Mbale and Jinja regional referral hospitals in the East.
According to Dr Jimmy Ben Forry, one of the lead researchers and psychiatrist at KIU Teaching Hospital, the study is aimed at identifying the stress factors that come with the pandemic and the lockdown, which came in as a means to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“We want to assess the levels of psychological distress the hospital workers are going through and their effect on the quality of life of the workers,” Dr Forry said.
The assessment is being conducted by use of self-administered forms issued by the hospital on the internet, which are then filled in by health workers.
With all the above strategies, managing mental health and psychosocial well-being of health workers and the public during this time is as important as managing physical health, to enable health workers to fully execute their duties and the public to live and stay healthy.