from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – THE severe shortage of professionals is among major barriers to adequate mental health services in Africa.
Minors are bearing the brunt, considering a dearth of child and adolescent mental health services in the continent.
The just-concluded World Mental Health Day, marked annually on October 10, has been a reminder of the disparities.
Human resources for child and adolescent mental health services are dire in many parts of the world, with an average of 0,3 psychiatrists per 100 000 population at the global level.
The figures are 0,1 per 100 000 for the 47 countries across the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Africa Region.
According to the WHO Mental Health ATLAS 2020 report, only 11 out of the 47 provided information on child and adolescent mental health policies.
Only three of these countries reported that they had such policies. Less than 50 percent of the mental health policies and plans in the African region comply with human rights standards.
WHO noted the multiple crises contexts, such as political instability, armed conflicts and disease outbreaks, which many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa face, not only jeopardised the already scarce access to mental health care but they also have dire negative impacts on the mental health of the overall populations and in particular children and adolescents.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the organisation was, to address this challenge, supporting countries to enhance mental health worker training, including at the lowest level of care.
“We are also supporting the efforts to improve availability of essential psychotropic medicines as well as promote and protect the rights of people with mental health conditions,” she said.
To advance the rights of children, especially in relation to mental health, countries have been urged to strengthen data collection on child and adolescent wellbeing and mental health, prevent harm, which is a key determinant of mental health and invest in mental health services.
– CAJ News