Soaring number of mental health patients overwhelm medics at Jinja hospital

Jinja Regional Referral Hospital is struggling to deal with mental health patients due to numerous challenges. Edith Alitwala, a senior Nursing Officer in the Psychiatry Department, says there are only four nurses instead of 8.

According to Alitwala, the number of mental health patients has almost doubled in the previous three months. She explains that they used to receive between 20 and 30 patients daily, but the number has increased to over 60 patients.

 Alitwala also notes that the unit is faced with a challenge of essential drug stockouts, adding that they have spent over two years without receiving Phenytoin and Injectable Fluphenzine, the two most essential drugs for mental illness.

URN spoke to Sarah Mudondo, a care take to one of the patients who has spent four weeks in the facility. She says that she spends more than Shillings 20,000 on drugs and food daily.

Alitwala emphasizes that the failure by the hospital to provide meals to the patients is a big setback. She says that in most cases they are forced to suspend medication to patients especially with HIV when they learn that the patient has not eaten.

She also cited insecurity as another challenge in the hospital. The mental health unit relies on the guards at the main gate, which is a very long distance from the unit.

“We have two nurses on night duty and there is a time when a patient wanted to strangle a nurse.  They had had to call security personnel at the main entrance, which is very risky,” she said.

The Mental health department of Jinja Regional Referral Hospital was established in 2010 following the decentralization of mental healthcare to regional referral hospitals to reduce at Butabika Referral Hospital.

-URN

 

Lack of sleep could be a symptom of an underlying health problem

Insomnia is excruciatingly tiring to deal with. It incapacitates you by making you unable to deal with changes — it took me 2 days to shift my schedule around so that I could have enough time last night to prepare for deep sleep. But all it took was a text message to send my mental state into anxiety, worry, depression, all at once. I laid in bed wide awake for 5 hours and towards the end, thought about how productive I could have been, if I hadn’t spent all this time lying on the bed.

When you don’t get enough sleep, you are never fully present in the moment. Tiredness looms over your whole presence. Productiveness decreases. You turn up late, or you miss meetings in the morning because that’s the time when you start to fall asleep — and you refuse to let anything get in the way. Guilt consumes you.

You feel hopeless, worthless, and cancel on anything that makes you anxious, and everything makes you anxious and annoyed, even people on the train chatting on their phones. Whenever you’re present in a class, or at a meeting, it takes you tremendous effort and courage. You feel like you’ve conquered something, until you realise that you’re putting in so much effort for something that requires minimal effort for others, and start to despair.

The emotional detriments of insomnia is an endless cycle of guilt, tiredness and hopelessness. Trying to escape drains both willpower and reputation.

Reputation, because insomnia is not an excuse, and neither is depression. Wanting to sleep is seen as lazy. Not sleeping earlier is seen as a mismanagement of time. To the working world, the dark rings under your eyes represent no more than inefficiency as a human being.

They tell you that they understand you, and give recount of that one time when they stayed up all night, not knowing you’ve been awake for 3 days straight more times than you can remember. They give advice on scented candles, and classical music, not knowing that you’ve tried even alcohol in desperation. You thank them for their good will, while they walk away wondering why you’re too stubborn to take their advice. They shake their heads at you.

But insomnia is not just insomnia. Insomnia is often a symptom of something larger that should be solved. Of health problems. Of mental discomfort. Insomnia is a symptom that aggravates the already aggravated situation. It traps you and eventually consumes you, making you question your sanity every night when you lay in bed with an overactive mind, thinking about all the mistakes in your life. It doesn’t help that insomnia has high comorbidity with depression and anxiety, all of which rides on each other to escalate the demise of your mind.

There is no easy solution to sleeplessness, because the causes are so diverse. This is a picture of what insomnia can be, and the hidden emotional costs of this debilitating condition.

“ Are you going to sleep soon? “

“ I try.”

 

 

-Thought Catalogue