It’s okay to not be okay

Byline Rhea Harani

2020 has been a difficult year, to say the least. As a reflex we all have a little more worry, a slight more panic and quite a bit of annoyance in us. Lockdown season has given us more time to think about our problems, or create some more in our heads. Everything has kind of been gloomy and depressing and there is so much that is out of our control. If it is any consolation, you are not alone and it’s therefore it is imperative that we must take care of ourselves and people around us.


It is important to differentiate between mental health and mental illness. Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel, and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. It involves how you feel about yourself, how you respond to what life throws your way and how well you achieve comfortable relationships with people in your life. Just like our physical health, our mental health needs constant maintenance and looking after.


Mental illness on the other hand is a diagnosable condition that significantly interferes with a person’s thinking, feelings, behavior and social ability. It disrupted a person’s ability to manage life’s usual demand and routines. These, just like physical illnesses, need to be treated both physically and psychologically.


One in four people suffer from mental illnesses, whether you are rich or poor, woman or man, the chances that you or a loved one of yours will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime are the same. While that is a scary statistic, it is important to remember that mental illnesses are common and not a sign of weakness. There is treatment available and people recover.


Here are some self help strategies to ensure that you are taking care of your mental health:

  1. Keep in touch with friends and family – having a support system and talking to loved ones on the daily can remind you that you are loved and appreciated. It is a two way street that helps both you and your family/friends
  2. Express your feelings – keeping a journal is one of the ways in which you can constantly talk about your feelings. It is important to get your emotions out in the open, it could be through actually speaking out loud, or ranting on social media or even just writing it down for yourself.
  3. Exercise – Research has proven that exercising daily can make you more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, improve your memory and make you feel more relaxed and positive. Especially when you have been working from home all day, going on a run or doing a few sit ups outside in nature can give you a mood boost.
  4. Creative activities – whether it is listening to music or painting a picture, indulging in creative activities that you enjoy is very beneficial. Curling up with a good book or throwing a dance party in your living room has more therapeutic effects than you’d know!
  5. Eat healthily – how your body feels will directly affect your brain feels too. Aside from the fact that this pandemic has forced us to be as healthy as we possibly can be, several mental illnesses can be regulated through healthy eating. Getting a lot of different colors on your plates can make a whole lot of a difference.
  6. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and recreational drugs – there is a difference between having a cup of coffee every morning vs consuming 4-5 cups of coffee throughout the day. Substances such as caffeine and alcohol when consumed in excess can exacerbate underlying mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It can disrupt your sleeping cycles and make you more prone towards depression.
  7. Essential oils – Aromatherapy is a natural way to elevate stress, improve digestion and regulate sleep cycles. Oils such as lavender, tea tree and peppermint are all beneficial to your body. Adding a few drops to your bath or getting a massage with these essential oils is an easy way to take care of yourself. Look out for allergies though!


One way or the other, we all feel emotionally drained, stressed or anxious at some point in life. It could be financial strain, professional setbacks, relationship issues or a variety of other problems. Most times, we are able to shake it off and bounce back. Sometimes however, we may need some extra help to do so. It may be difficult to figure out at what point you may need to reach out for professional help and who to reach out to. You must remember that if you feel that things are out of your control, or if you are experiencing trouble eating or sleeping, if your physical health is being affected, if you have trauma or are grieving, it is helpful to seek outside help.


While figuring out who you should see, you must make an important distinction between two types of mental health professionals. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are able to prescribe medications. They are able to diagnose biological and neurotic behaviors and will focus on pharmacological interventions. Psychologists who may often hold doctorate degrees are not medical doctors, and will not prescribe medication. They are more likely to use cognitive and behavioral interventions by tracking sleep/eating patterns, and through talking about problems.


More often than not, these professionals work together in case a patient may need both therapy and medical intervention. Below is a list of some of the mental health professionals you can find in Kampala.


Dr Emmanuel Mwesiga

  • Psychiatrist at Nakasero Hospital
  • Specialises in Substance Use treatment as well
  • Tel: 0782272757


Dr Noeline Nakasujja

  • Psychiatrist at Kitgum House
  • Children, Adults, Families
  • Tel: 0312260546


Anushree Dirangane

  • Counselling Psychotherapist (in India)/Counselling Psychologist (in Uganda)
  • Children, Adults, Families
  • Psychological trauma, relationship and attachment concerns, grief, depression,

anxiety and other mental health and well being concerns.

  • Tel: 0770444619


Dr Femke Bannink

  • Psychologist at The Surgery
  • Children, Adults, Families
  • Tel: 0772928011


Vivian Kudda

  • Psychologist at The Surgery
  • Children, Adults
  • Tel: 0772928011


Zenah Nsereko

  • Psychologist at The Clinic, Village Mall
  • Children, Adults, Families
  • Tel: 0793419397


Shurina Melwani-Stokes

  • Psychologist at Human Mechanics
  • Children, Adults, Families, couples
  • Tel: 0779214461


Clara Garcias

  • Psychologist and Psychotherapist in Muyenga
  • Group and Private psychotherapy
  • Tel: 0789953087