The Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has encouraged all MPs to take lead on mental health awareness, and test for mental wellness.
Among made the call on Monday while opening a two-day mental health camp organised by the Parliamentary Forum on Mental Health at the Parliament Gardens.
“We need to start with ourselves to make sure that when we are legislating for the people, we are mentally stable – that is a priority. Before we talk about checking others, we shall first check ourselves,” Among said.
The Speaker made the remarks in reference to the recent spike in gun violence in the country which has been partly blamed on mental illness of the security personnel involved in the shooting incidents.
Among expressed concerns over the increasing deaths attributed to mental disorders, and said since Parliament has appropriated money for mental health in the next budget, there should be a programme encouraging Ugandans to be screened for mental health.
“Within one month, we have lost lives arising from aspects of depression, poverty, unemployment, stress, drug addiction and alcohol. Because we have all these problems in Uganda, we are going to make sure that people are screened for mental health,” Among said.
Meanwhile, the chairperson, Parliamentary Forum on Mental Health, Geofrey Macho proposed a mandatory periodic assessment of all people in possession of guns for mental health.
He said this would prevent a likely rise in shootings by security officers.
The latest report from the Uganda Counselling Association and the Ministry of Health, shows that 14 million Ugandans are mentally sick.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Uganda is ranked among the top six countries in Africa in rates of depressive disorders (4.6%), while 2.9% live with anxiety disorders.
WHO report also shows that about 5.1% of females and 3.6% of males are affected.
Despite the rise in mental illness, only 1% of Uganda’s budget for healthcare goes into mental healthcare.