The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) is hard at work to finalise drafting the Mental Health Bill to be tabled in Parliament.
Minister Dr. Kalumbi Shangula said this at the inauguration of the Mental Health Board for the Windhoek Central Hospital on Friday.
The Bill aims to prioritise the dignity, anatomy, human rights, and overall well-being of individuals with mental health conditions.
Dr. Shangula also stressed that mental health patients are usually stigmatised and treated inhumanely.
He stressed that effective measures should be put in place to protect the patients.
"Increased investment is required for more mental health. There is a need to increase awareness to enhance understanding and reduce stigma. There is a need for increased efforts to expand access to quality mental health care and effective treatment. There is a need for more research to identify new treatments for all mental disorders."
While highlighting the important role of the board in the provision of mental health care, he urged the board to engage with the patients and advise the ministry accordingly on actions to be assumed.
"Among their duties is a regular inspection of the institution they overlook. During the visit, every patient is afforded an opportunity for personal communication with the board. The board is also tasked with investigating complaints made by patients. They are also required to report their visit and provide suggestions for the welfare of the patients to the minister."
Dr. Shangula further emphasises that depression is one of the major causes of the condition, while suicide remains the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 29.
He says the ministry plans to expand its facilities so that patients can be treated closer to where they live.
"The Windhoek Central Hospital Facility currently has a bed capacity of 220 and provides services including general psychiatry for patients. Meanwhile, ward 16 in the Oshakati hospital accommodates 60 patients, despite the high demand.