Opinions

HOW YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT HAS ESCALATED MENTAL HEALTH

By Guest Writer

According to 2020 International Labour Report, the global youth unemployment stands at 13.6% and this is caused by lack of job opportunities and related restrictive nature of attaining the few available ones like work experience, gender disparities, certain level of education, age among other discriminating aspects other than merit and performance.

The outbreak of covid-19 worsened the condition because most of employers laid off a higher percentage of employees in a move to curb down the spread of the virus as per the guidelines of Ministry of Health.

This left many frustrated, disappointed, traumatized with no hope for a source of income that left them in a state of mental inabilities. This further, continued even post covid-19 pandemic because most of the organizations that were employing the youths could not adapt to the economic hardships brought in by covid-19.

Therefore, the number of unemployed people out of work has negatively impacted the community’s economic growth and development because these unemployed youth resorted to immoral activities and crime through engaging in robbery, theft among others thereby putting a country on security threat.

Due to high levels of unemployment in the country, many youths have resorted to alcoholism to relieve themselves from mental disorders. Reports indicate that 80% of Ugandan youths are using alcohol (Ayebare et al.,2019) and this is because most of the youths possess mental disorders such as anxiety, stress, depression and they believe that once they resort to taking alcohol, their mental disorders will be relieved. The current report from the Ministry of Health (MoH) brings it clearly that 14 million Ugandans with mental illnesses seek medical attention.

With the increased cases of mental illnesses among the people, the World Health Organization (WHO) further indicates that 90% of people with these mental illness receive no treatment because there is only one national referral hospital (Butabika) rendering mental health services making mental health seem not be taken seriously yet it’s the pivot of human life.

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Other than inadequate health facilities, there are other challenges making mental health not to be taken seriously provided that it’s being allocated a very low budget, low skilled personnel and inadequate working equipment. All these have forced the trained workers to move a broad in search for green pasture.

The budget allocation for health in the country has remained very low whereby 9.8% of its gross domestic product is spent on healthcare and less than 1% is allocated to the mental health care therefore leading to unsatisfactory mental health care services.

As the parliament house agreed with the government proposal of putting people at the center of next financial year, achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 8 of securing decent work would be crucial to the alarming cases of mental disorders and this can only be attained once the government works hand in hand with the private sector to ensure that the kind of knowledge and skills taught in learning institutions are responsive to the career development. This should be built during the early years so that by the time children grow up, they find rewarding work.

I urge the youth to aim at being job creators rather than job seekers. This would relieve them from the mental disorders that have become part and partial of every individual. For them to become job creators, the government should see this happen by increasing the financial package for the youth by putting in place more income generating schemes.

Conclusively, I call upon the government to first prioritize the mental health care budget so that the services can be accessed by all people without experiencing any hardships and this can be done through construction of more mental health care facilities, training of more health personnel and fulfilling all the health-related promises.

The author is Hildah Nsimiire, Research fellow at Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS).

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