This week at allAfrica.com Jimmy Odoki Acellam wrote two articles about mental illness in Uganda. In the first article (http://allafrica.com/stories/201108191589.html), he describes his personal story of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and getting treatment.
He wrote, "Internationally, many movie stars, footballers and sports icons have been named as victims of the disorder. But in Uganda not as many diagnoses have been made, probably because of a lack of awareness. ... The greatest challenge is the cost of medication and routine visit to consultants. Bipolar disorder still has no known cure, so its patients live almost the rest of their lives on medication. Defaulting may lead to a relapse, which is much like beginning the cycle all over again. Since the drugs don't come cheap, living on medication poses a big challenge for patients of bipolar disorder and their family members."
In the second article (http://allafrica.com/stories/201108191585.html), Acellam offers a brief assessment of the government's actions around mental illness. Overall awareness of bipolar disorder, the condition he lives with, is low and treatment is hard to get because the country of 30 million people has only 25 psychiatrists.
Acellam references the CNN documentary called "Locked up and Forgotten" that portrays the institutionalization of Kenyans with severe mental illness. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM4meNCLYAA
In a previous GHDonline Member Spotlight, Dr. Samuel Okpaku described various challenges to scaling up mental health services in Africa and what he is doing to help. Available here: http://bit.ly/puInsy