The Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) has challenged different stakeholders in Ntcheu to be vigilant and civic educate rural masses in clearing misconceptions and myths that surround mental illness in their respective societies.

MACOHA Mental Health Project Coordinator, Japhet Myaba said that through this, issues of stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health can be addressed.

The sentiments follows a Community Mental Health Forum Indaba held Friday in the district with various stakeholders from the district.

The participants included the clergy, police, judiciary, traditional healers, health experts, local chiefs and youth representatives among others.

They discussed ways on how to increase awareness of mental illness and promoting the idea that people with mental illness can be integrated into the community.

Further, the meeting discussed to build a strong relationships between mental health professionals and the community among others.

According to Myaba, integration of people with mental illness in the community speaks volume as it has potential to address issues surrounding the illness.

“Myths and misconceptions resulting to stigma and discrimination towards people with mental illness has no room in the society; hence, intensifying civic education on the same,” Myaba said.

One of the participants, Mahommed Nsamala, an herbalist, believes raising awareness on mental illness is vital to address anxiety and usually connect the illness to ritual beliefs.

Nsamala strongly denied widespread reports of linking mental illness to rituals as mere myths and misconceptions among people who are ignorant on issues surrounding mental illness.

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