A recent study has shown that 20 out of 100 patients who visit health facilities in Zomba district are diagnosed with common mental disorders.
Zomba Mental Hospital Psychiatric Clinician Harry Kawiya said the study has shown that more people are diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
Kawiya however said a study on the prevalence of common mental disorders in the country is yet to be conducted.
He said stigma and discrimination against mentally ill persons is high due to misconceptions and cultural beliefs.
“We look at mental illness as someone has done something terrible like for young people we think that whoever has been found with mental disorder it means they were using alcohol or smoking cannabis.
“We also think that if someone is mentally ill then someone has bewitched that person,” Kawiya said.
At the moment, Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) in partnership with Zomba Mental Hospital and Tackle Africa is implementing a three year Comic Relief funded Passing and supporting: Building tactics for community mental health care project in the districts of Nkhotakota, Lilongwe and Zomba.
YONECO Executive Director MacBain Mkandawire said among others, the project aims at fighting stigma and discrimination against mentally ill persons.
“The overall objective is to increase mental healthcare services to the people but also to ensure that we promote social integration of those who had mental problems at community level,” he said.
Mkandawire said the project also aims at profiling mental health as big challenge in the country.
“In most cases we are not aware what a mental health problem is. People think that when you go to a mental hospital you have a mental health problem,” he said.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), one in every four people globally has a mental health problem.