Malawi: Yoneco Underscores Need for More Trained Counsellors

Blantyre — Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) Executive Director, Mc Bain Mkandawire has emphasised the need for the country to have more trained counsellors who can deal with psychological problems.

In an interview with Malawi News Agency on Monday, Mkandawire said this would ensure that people get assistance before their psychological problems escalate into serious mental illnesses.

"Malawi has a long way to go to ensure that people with mental health problems are assisted accordingly.

"Of course, now we hear that at least at each and every district there is a mental health technician but the services and support require more than having a mental health technician.

"When we look at mental health, it should not degenerate to a situation where somebody is taken to a mental hospital," said Mkandawire.

He said having such people across the country will mean that the country will be able to deal with causative agents of mental disorders.

"These are psychological issues of depression, violence, drug and substance abuse, things we need to be dealing with.

"We would also be looking at economic situations which are heavily associated with mental health.

"Many people have committed suicide because of psychological challenges that come because of failure to provide for their families," said Mkandawire.

In another interview, Zomba Mental Hospital Psychiatric Clinical Officer, Harry Kawiya echoed Mkandawire's sentiments, saying having more trained counsellors can help people with mental health problems to identify specific aspects of concern.

"This process of identification facilitates greater understanding of the problem and enables the person to develop different views and thus new solutions.

"Further, just the experience of being listened to helps the person to see the problem in a new light and reach a satisfactory solution without further help from the practitioner," he said.

Kawiya added that by having more trained counsellors, a lot of people will not progress from distress to disorder.

"It also means that more people will get help while in their homes and we will have few people who will need in-patient care," said Kawiya.

YONECO, with funding from Comic Relief is implementing a Mental Health Project in Traditional Authority Kafuzira in Nkhotakota; T.A. Mlumbe in Zomba and T.A. Kulumbu in Lilongwe.

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