ALCOHOL and drug abuse has contributed to the high number of mental illnesses and admissions among the youths in Lusaka.
Chainama Hills Hospital public relations officer, George Tafuna, said most of the cases the institution was recording were due to alcohol abuse, drugs and HIV-related illnesses.
Mr Tafuna said Chainama hospital was now operating as first-level hospital because most psychiatric patients in Zambia were referred there.
‘’We don’t have anywhere to take them, there are some incidences where police find someone in the street and they bring them to the hospital because they are a danger to society,’’ he said.
He said the Ministry of Health has embarked on sensitization and public awareness programmes to sensitize youths in Chibolya, Kanyama, George and Chawama compounds, among other areas, where the users were found.
He said crime and defilement cases were on the increase due to abuse of alcohol among the youths in communities.
He explained that once a person took alcohol and drugs the mood and mind were altered by the substance that slowed down the functions of a human body and eventually changed the behaviour because the brain was the most affected part.
Mr Tafuna said Chainama psychiatric ward was congested due to high numbers of mental illness patients because the hospital was the biggest referral hospital in Zambia among the three.
Mr Tafuna noted that there were common misconceptions and myths surrounding mental illness such as witchcraft and sexual cleansing, which were also a major challenge among medical practitioners.
He said organizations should partner with the ministry to help disseminate information to the general public on the dangers and causes of mental illness.