Like so many others in Ethiopia, Hanna suffered from depression. Depression represents 5% of the country’s disease burden. Until the dramatic loss of her only child, Hanna had always been a happy and healthy person. However, this shocking event soon began to cause her feelings of incredible sadness and anxiety.
Hanna kept thinking about her loved child and would feel so nervous that her heart rate would increase, further adding to her stress. She was having trouble sleeping at night too. Fortunately, Hanna was able to visit a Nurse trained by the MhGap program who immediately diagnosed her with depression. “When I visited the clinic, the nurse asked me many questions and she finally explained that, like many mothers who lose a child, my symptoms where due to what they call depression,” says Hanna.
In fact, thanks to MhGap, the nurse was able to recognize Hanna’s problem and know that her case could be treated without medication. The nurse offered her help by listening and supporting Hanna like any good psychologist would. With time, Hanna was able to grieve and her sleep became regular again. Hanna is now on her way back to a normal and functional life.
Hanna’s story illustrates how the training of primary health care staff is essential in addressing different major mental health conditions at an early stage. The decentralization of services through the training of psychiatric nurses makes mental health care more accessible to patients that cannot receive treatment from the main psychiatric hospital in the capital city.
That making treatment accessible at the primary level of care will increase the number of people who can access it. This will also raise awareness on the issue of mental health within the communities and start reducing its stigma.