‘Depression a serious problem in Lesotho’


By Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MASERU — Nineteen years ago, Motlalentoa Kopo was arrested by the military police after he was accused of stealing some army uniform. The arrest and detention during that tempestuous period in Lesotho’s history left him seriously traumatised. In 2007, in yet another period of political turbulence, he was arrested again. This time what he went through left him a broken man.
Kopo says he was arrested for allegedly stealing some military guns and giving them to members of the then opposition All Basotho Convention party. His wife, ’Mamoneuoa, a teacher at a local high school, was also arrested. The two were however later acquitted of the charges. Kopo says they went through hell during that period. He says the events left them seriously depressed and had to seek professional therapy. On Wednesday, as Kopo addressed a gathering at the Mohlomi Psychiatric Hospital to celebrate World Mental Health Day, it was difficult to believe the former army officer had in the past suffered from depression.
“We had to have depression therapy with my wife because of the accusations and the arrests,” Kopo told the audience.
“My condition was bad. I wanted to be in isolation. I hated people’s company. I would sleep all the time. My doctor had my gun confiscated fearing that I might harm myself or people around me.” But things have changed for the better for him and his wife, thanks to care and treatment they received from Mohlomi Psychiatric Hospital, he says. “My wife and I are now back to our normal selves because of the care and support we received from the counsellors at this hospital. I sometimes cannot believe that it is me opening up and talking to other people.
“I had stopped talking to anyone. I cannot thank the counsellors enough for what they did for me and my wife.”
Speaking at the same occasion, Health Minister Dr Pinkie Manamolela, said mental health issues should be addressed with care. She says most cases of depression that cause mental illnesses in Lesotho are a result of marital woes. Women are the most affected, she says. “Depression is a serious issue in Lesotho and across the world. In Lesotho troubled marriages have been identified as the main cause of depression.
“More women suffer from depression than men. About 350 million people around the world have depression. Suicides and attempted suicides are on the rise due to depression,” she says. She says that this is cause for concern in Lesotho where there is shortage of psychiatric doctors. “There is a shortage of psychiatric doctors in Lesotho. We therefore urge students to study psychiatry to address the shortage. The ministry should also initiate prevention programmes so that we can deal with mental illnesses in early stages before too much damage is done.”
Lebina Lebina, a senior officer in the mental health department, says little attention has been given to mental health issues in Lesotho. Lebina says his department has been treated like an outcast, so much that their needs are the last to be addressed.
“Our department has been neglected over the years. We are the last ones to be considered among departments that need assistance of any kind. “We have been living in depression ourselves yet we are supposed to help those who are depressed. We are an important department and we should also be given priority,” Lebina says.
World Health Organisation country representative, Dr Jacob Mufunda, says that depression can be detected early and treated effectively if one gets the support they need. “People can resume their normal lives if depression is seen and treated early. It can even be treated primarily without drugs. If seen and treated early we can then beat stigmatisation,” Mufunda says.
World Mental Health Day, which is supported by the United Nations, is held annually on October 10 to raise public awareness about mental health issues worldwide.


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  1. Depression is a mental health illness that affects people. More than just feeling down, clinical depression is a mood disorder charecterized by persistant feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that don’t go away on their own. Feeling miserable consistantly could be due to a lot of reasons ( Puso e mpe, moruo o notobetseng le tsamaiso e mpe ea ona, thlokahalo ea mesebetsi, litsebeletso tse putlameng)
    Sad and distressful events( lipolaeano tse sehloho tsa bana, maqheku jj, Hontsoa ha limpa ke basali le ho lahla masea hohle mona, tlala le thlobolo tse aparetseng malapa)
    being without any sense of hope( ho qeteletse batho ba itlohetse feela ba tetebetse litsileng tsa mele le kelello) tsena kaofela li tsoala ho tsejoang ele an inability to find pleasure in positive things ENHEDONIA

  2. Thanx for the explanation Letsatsi, it’s very helpful. I am glad you also provided us with some of the reasons people get depressed, resulting in this ‘enhedonia’ But I would like to come up with another suggestion that while people continue to seek professional help and are put on medication, they should also try to get a higher power support system. They must find a church and participate in its activity earnestly. This will not only take their thoughts away from their miseries, but will also usher in a sense of hope and strength to live on.

  3. Bothata-thata ba Basotho ke ho nahana hore ha motho a chakela Mohlomi ke hobane o oa HLANYA. Ho na le batho ba babeli, bao ke amanang le bona haholo, bao ke nahanang ba hloka ho fumana thuso Mohlomi. Bothata ke hore, ha nka leka feela ka re ba ke ba fumane thuso, ba ka nthohaka (literally) hona hoo. Ke ngola tjena, ha re buisane le bona.

    Ebe motho o ee a etse joang ho eletsa batho ba mofuta oo? Metsoalle ea bona, ha e ka leka feela ea fana ka keletso eo ba sa lumellaneng le eona, ba fetoha lira. Ba lelapa, ba buang se fapaneng le tumelo ea bona, ba fetoha lira. Ke ee ke utloe ho thoe batho ba mofuta ona ba “bi-polar”, ebe pheko e teng?

    Ke ba hlokela thuso ea ka pele.

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