As Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate world mental health day on October 10, 2022, experts urged the government to implement mental health Education in schools.
Mr. Vicent Mujuni, a mental health counselor with Strong Minds Uganda explained that many school-going children in Uganda are facing some sort of mental health challenges. He urged parliament to task the National Curriculum Development Center to set up guidelines for schools to embrace counseling and mental health care.
Speaking to Olive Najjuma on The Fatboy Show, Rebecca Namuli, the Adolescence Co-ordinator of Strong Minds, stated that the commonest mental health challenges amongst children today are depression, anxiety, Disruptive Behavioural Disorder (DBD) which is usually referred to as stubbornness.
“When children are growing up, they face multiple challenges resulting from where they are raised, social factors, and their biological changes resulting from puberty all contribute to either depression or anxiety,” said Rebecca.
“The conduct disorder of depression or anxiety affects 10 -20 children worldwide and some of these disorders start affecting them at an early age of 9 -10 years. Before 14, a child can be diagnosed with a mental health condition,” she added.
The common signs of depression among children she said include anger outbursts, withdrawal from society, expressions of sadness through crying, difficulty making and maintaining friends, and low concentration levels, which most times leads to a tremendous decline in academic performance.
According to statistics, there is a 16 percent rise in children battling mental health challenges. Currently, most suicide cases are being registered among school-going children mainly teenagers.
Rebecca says that when a parent or caregiver realizes some of these changes in their children, they should talk to them and also seek professional advice.
“When you talk to your child, surprisingly you will be able to unveil what the child is struggling with. By affirming them that it's okay to express their feelings as a result of what they are going through,” Rebecca advised.
She continued that most times parents are so engrossed in work that they go back home so late and leave so early and may not know what their children are struggling with.
“Probably the child could have been abused at school and you don’t know. So this is the time for parents to get engaged in their children’s lives because as children grow to become teenagers, they detach from their parents and if the parents also detach from them, they could need answers that they might get somewhere in a negative opinion,” she noted.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, and Sarah every weekday from 6 am to 10 am on RX Radio.