Mental illness patients in Aweil hospital remain untreated

Aweil Civil Hospital does not have a functional psychiatric department to respond to cases of mental illnesses in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, an official has said.

The in charge of the non-functioning Mental Department said they have nowhere to treat patients.

Mental illness are disorders that affect a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. It include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Josephine Awien told Akol Yam 91 FM that they have registered at least 3,384 people requiring mental health support since 2020.

Most of the cases, she said, are associated with drug abuse, childhood abuse, torture, neglect, social isolation, long term stress and physical health condition., among others.

Awien said they are unable to attend to these patients due to a lack of mental health facilities and services in the hospital.

“Most of people come and they don’t support. Some are even loitering in the town because relatives cannot keep them at homes,” she stated.

Awien call for the support of the Mental Health Department to enable her take care of those in need of mental health support.

People with mental health issues are often treated at psychiatric hospital or unit. The mental health unit or behavioral health unit, is a facility or ward specialized in the treatment of severe mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.

“We have people with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, they tend to die in early years, and this is difficult for [their] families to keep such persons without treatment. They need to keep them in a place where they can regularly get medication until his/her mind returns to normal, then he/she can go back home,” Awien emphasized.

“I request the State Ministry of Health to look into this matter.”

The Director General in the State Ministry of Health, Dr Aleu Pioth Akot confirmed that the entire state has no mental health facility. He promised to forward the request to the national Ministry of Health in Juba.

Last week, the Director for Mental Health in the National Ministry of Health admitted that most of mental health patients are sent to prisons to contain them due to understaffing and underfunding of mental health programs.

Atong Ayuel who is also the Head of Psychiatric Department at Juba Teaching Hospital stated that they have wards in the hospital and in Juba Central Prison being attended to by only by 2 nurses – each with a day and night shift.

She urges the government to fund the development of more psychiatric facilities across the country to respond to mental illness cases.