The University of Botswana and United Nations have joined hands to promote conversation around mental health with students from various tertiary institutions. The aim is to create awareness and remove the stigma associated with mental health conditions.

Speaking at the event at the University of Botswana Student Centre on October 17, 2019, Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, said the prevalence of mental health disorders had increased considerably in the past few decades. Professor Norris said statistics indicated an increase in both psychiatric in-patients and out-patients between 2002 and 2006 while the highest was recorded in 2010.

He further noted that most recorded mental health conditions included Schizophrenia, depressive episodes, epilepsy and schizo affective disorders mostly among males. He added that 14 481 youth aged 15-34 years were reported to have suffered mental illness in 2010.

Professor Norris observed that students were among the population affected by mental health illness in the country. Therefore, it was critical for UB to play a leading role in strengthening support services, he said.

United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms Jacinta Barrins, urged students to develop an awareness of their thoughts and alter negative ones into positive thoughts to avoid stress, depression and mental health disorders.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Health and Wellness representative, Mr Ookame Charles, said mental health disorders in youth were mostly caused by poor parenting and dysfunctional families. Mr Charles cautioned that poor mental health could lead to suicide. Sometimes youth resort to alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism, he added.

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