EDITORIAL: Mental health issues need to be tackled early

To say that Rwanda was the trauma capital of the world would not be stretching it. With what the country went through, that was to be expected, but the worrying thing is that children, who were not yet born in 1994, are inheriting it from adults.

Trauma, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is what mental health experts are wrestling with every day and they seem to be fighting a losing battle. A 2018 survey showed that one in ten people suffer from Severe Depressive Episodes, but among Genocide survivors, the numbers are enough to sound alarm bells; 35 per cent.

The figure could be even higher because only about 60 per cent of the population knows where to find mental health support and only 38.3 per cent among them made use of those services.

We are dealing with many demons and exorcising them should be our priority. The Government could begin by decentralising neuro-psychiatric services down to the village level with community health workers equipped with the necessary skills to handle cases early before they degenerate into complications.

Public lectures, especially after the monthly community work, Umuganda, could also be used to sensitise the population on that mental health issue. It is only through concerted efforts that the issue can be managed.

Over the years we have been confronted by difficult and hectic situations that could have brought down even stronger nations than ours, but the people of Rwanda persevered. It is that never-say-die attitude that should be used to deal with trauma and its side effects.