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WHO Backs Improved Mental Health Services In Somali

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged all its partners and donors, including all United Nations (UN) agencies to urgently scale up their support for mental health services in Somali.

The WHO said policy-makers, international and national agencies, and other civil society groups should also as a matter of urgency, prioritize and increase their collaboration with Somali on mental health issues in order to break the cycle of neglect, lack of awareness, stigma and discrimination, which are often the drivers of poor mental health in any country.

The request is coming at a time when Somalis are faced with the consequences of the triple threat of COVID-19, flooding and desert locusts.

According to current statistics, one in every three Somalis is affected by a challenge related to their mental health. Unfortunately, however, there are only a few health facilities offering mental health services for a country of 15 million, there are only 3 psychiatrists and 25 trained nurses dealing with mental health.

WHO Representative for Somalia, Dr Mamunur Malik gave the charge in a statement to mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, adding that all stakeholders need to join hands to ensure every Somali has access to mental health services, particularly psycho-social support at primary health care level.

“Only when communities have access to good health in a holistic manner, physically and emotionally, can we have a peaceful, progressive and productive society”, he said.

Dr Malik emphasized the inevitable health, economic and social costs that come with dismissing mental health problems, noting that mental health is fundamental to good health and the well-being of the population.

He also noted that the burden of coping with diseases such as COVID-19 would only exacerbate the situation and result in more Somalis having to deal with unaddressed anxiety, stress and fear.

Meanwhile, the global theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is, “Move for Mental Health: Let’s Invest”.  

In Somalia, in an attempt to highlight the importance of ensuring mental health services are accessible by all, and to ensure that this becomes the norm for future generations, the country is commemorating the day with the theme ‘Investing in mental health is investing in Somalia’s future’.

The Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mr Adam Abdelmoula, released a recorded video message to commemorate this year’s event, which is being broadcast across the WHO Somalia country office’s social media channels.

In his message, he called for increasing development assistance from all humanitarian and development partners of Somalia to improve mental health services.

Since the first World Mental Health Day, launched 30 years ago, significant efforts have been made around the world to encourage people to talk openly about mental health conditions.

In a similar vein, it has become imperative to stop the stigma and discrimination against people suffering from mental health challenges in Somali. Moreover, there is also a need to put an end to violence, and abuses orchestrated against those who are facing mental health problems in the country.


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