Ntcheu — Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) has introduced a community mental health forum (CMHF) as a way of reducing mental health problems in Ntcheu.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Wednesday in Ntchis after a stakeholders meeting, MACOHA's Mental Health Project Coordinator, Japhet Myaba said the organization introduced the forum with an aim of increasing awareness on mental problems.
He said imparting information to the rural masses on mental health could help clear misconceptions and myths that surround mental illness in communities.
"As MACOHA, we are looking at things to do with symptoms, prevalence as well as community care that can reduce mental illnesses in Ntcheu district," the Coordinator said.
Myaba said their organization needed to discuss with stakeholders on ways on how best they ould raise awareness to integrate those people who have mental illness as well as those that have just recovered from the illness so as to find better ways of assisting them.
"Promoting ideas of people with mental problems can lead to the solution of such problems at early stage in their respective communities," he said.
Myaba pointed out that the project also seeks to address issues of misconception and myths that are fueling mental problems in the communities a development he said makes people to stigmatise and discriminate such conditions.
"Through the project we are doing a number of activities as a one way of combating stigma, myths, and misconceptions within the communities through provision of correct information so as to avoid wrong perceptions," he pointed out.
One of the Herbalists, Mahommed Msamala appreciated the efforts by MACOHA saying the training was vital to the stakeholders as it would help them provide the right information to people on mental health.
He refuted misconceptions and myths that herbalists are the ones responsible for causing some mental illnesses saying people get mad because of depression and not as alleged.
Stakeholders, who included herbalists, discussed ways of building a strong relationship between mental health professionals and the community, among other issues.
The meeting drew participants from government departments, clergy, and police