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Mental Illness In Africa? – Angola Day 6



Picture this: I’m seeing a stream of people suffering from malaria, typhoid fever, deep bone infections, stroke, skin cancer, and then… “Doctor, I can’t sleep, I hear voices constantly, my entire body is burning, my brain is splitting open, and people want to kill me.” The spectrum and burden of mental illness in poorer nations like Angola comes as a surprise to many in North America. While we tend to conceptualize diseases of poverty being TB, malaria and HIV, research demonstrates that mental illness is the SEVENTH leading cause of years of life (DALYs) lost in the world’s low income nations. How does depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder cause early death? Through suicide, substance abuse, and deepening poverty leading to risks of infectious diseases. But treating mental illness in low-resource setting is problematic. People generally don’t accept such diagnoses and medical attention is drawn away towards these acute diseases. Are you interested in mental health? You could offer a world of good!

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