Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) has said stigma and discrimination against persons with mental illness remain challenges in communities towards achieving mental health care integration in the country.
MACOHA Acting Rehabilitation Manager in Lilongwe, Lemson Njala said this recently during a three day refresher training of community rehabilitation workers and volunteers on Mental Health Care program in Nkhotakota.
Njala observed that Malawi is moving at a snail’s pace to achieving mental health care, citing stigma and discrimination as main contributing factors.
“We have observed that Malawi is not doing well in integrating with people who have metal health problem, so as MACOHA, we are mandated to reach out to such people in their respective places and help overcome their problems through Community Based Inclusive Development program,” he said.
He said MACOHA through its community rehabilitation workers and other volunteers is doing all it can to end stigma and discrimination which still retard mental health care activities.
District Community Mental Health project coordinator for MACOHA in Nkhotakota, Japhet Muyaba agreed with Njala saying there is need to enhance intensive awareness among communities on mental illness.
Muyaba said refresher trainings that MACOHA conducts aims at strengthening the capacity of community rehabilitation workers and volunteers on different skills on mental health care.
One of the participants during the refresher training, Delia Mwale, a community rehabilitation worker from Ntcheu said her job as rehabilitation worker on mental health care is improving in communities.
Delia, however, said she faces challenges as persons with mental illness are not taken to hospitals to access mental health services due to among others, reluctance of family members to take such people to hospital.
By Fredrick Manda – Mana