Fight against unemployment to avoid mental disorders

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According to a 2020 international labor report, global youth unemployment stands at 13.6% and this is due to the lack of job opportunities and the related restrictive nature of getting the few available opportunities such as work experience, gender disparities, a certain level of education, age among other discriminating aspects other than merit and performance.

The Covid-19 outbreak has made the situation worse as most employers have laid off a higher percentage of employees in an effort to reduce operational costs. This has left many people frustrated, disappointed, traumatized with no hope of a source of income, rendering them in a state of mental incapacity.

This continued even after the pandemic period, as most organizations that employed young people could not adapt to the economic hardships caused by the Covid-19 disruptions.

Consequently, the number of unemployed has had a negative impact on the economic growth and development of the community. Some unemployed youth have resorted to immoral activities and criminality to make ends meet while jeopardizing the country’s security.

Due to high unemployment rates, many young people have resorted to alcoholism for relief from mental stress.

Reports say that 80% of young Ugandans consume alcohol, and this is because most of them suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety, stress and depression. The current report from the Ministry of Health clearly shows that 14 million Ugandans with mental illness seek medical attention.

With the increasing cases of mental illnesses among the population, the World Health Organization (WHO) further states that 90% of people with these mental illnesses do not receive any treatment because there is only one national reference hospital (Butabika). Besides inadequate health facilities, there are other challenges that make mental health a less considered aspect of life.

It is important to note that mental health has a very low budget, poorly qualified staff and inadequate work equipment. All of this has forced trained mental health workers to seek better opportunities abroad.

Budget allocation for health in the country has remained very low i.e. 9.8% of the budget is allocated to health care with less than 1% allocated to mental health care.

As Parliament endorsed the government’s proposal to put people at the center of the next budget exercise, achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8 of ensuring decent work is expected to be crucial in stemming the alarming cases of mental disorders.

This can only be achieved when the government works with the private sector to ensure that the knowledge and skills imparted in educational institutions respond to career development.

The same should be built during the first years so that young people find rewarding work once they have finished their studies.

That said, I urge young people to aim to be job creators rather than job seekers. This would relieve them of the mental disorders that affect the majority of Ugandans.

For young people to become job creators, the government should increase their financial envelope by using more income-generating programs.

Finally, the government should prioritize the budget for mental health care so that services are accessible to all without experiencing hardship.

To achieve this, the government can build more mental health care facilities, train enough health personnel, and fulfill all health-related promises.

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