Police officers are at a higher risk of developing mental illness-experts warn


By Ronald Kabuye
As uganda prepares to commemorate the world mental health day slated for Friday this week in Busoga under the theme mental health in the work places,  experts  have warned that those in armed forces especially police officers are at a higher risk of developing mental health problems or disorder.
This has been revealed by the head of mental health division in the ministry of health Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi at a press conference.
Dr Ndyanabangi said that the current period of togikwatako gikwateko conditions where the police officers are forced to do things against their consciousness may result into many getting depression and anxiety problems which are the major drivers of mental health problems.
It’s on this note that Dr Ndyanabangi appealed to the heads of armed forces to copy from the Uganda People’s Defense Forces UPDF and introduce the psychological counselling programmes in forces, to stop over exposing their officers to combat conditions and to give ample time to their officers to cool off.
“it’s because of depression and anxiety that the police officers tear gas and beat innocent people as if they are killing a snake, this is because they are instructed to do things against their consciousness thus they need time to cool off and counselling programmes”  said Dr. Ndyanabangi
In the same way doctor Hafisah Lukwata from the mental health division of the ministry of health emphasised need to promote mental health and support people with mental disorders at the work places.
Statistics indicate that atleast one out of five people in every work place is battling with mental health issues with the commonest globally being depression and anxiety with more than 300 million people suffering it which in most times lead to disability.
” A health work place can be described as one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees.” said Dr. Lukwata
Meanwhile Dr. Ethel Nakimuli Mpungu a psychiatrist and senior lecturer at Makerere university and Butabika mental health hospital revealed that they have registered great progress ever since they started a programme in Northern Uganda dubbed Social, emotional and economic empowerment through group support psychotherapy (SEEK-GSP) project.
The programme has benefited over 5000 patients in the districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader and in the army barracks in the northern region.
” the project first impacts knowledge and skills in the patients which results into attitude change, positive copying, social skills and reduced stigma which in the end has resulted into reduced alcohol, increase in livelihood assets,  better Art adherence and reduced poverty which is the major driver of depression.” said Dr Ethel.


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