Throughout my 9 years’ experience in Gede’s laboratory (working as a Laboratory Assistant), I came across many cases of people with the double burden of HIV and mental health disorders. Those were years that I was so stranded due to inadequate knowledge in mental health and was unable to help people with their predicament! How I wish those years were these few months that I have been opportune to work in a mental health programme.
Some people were disheartened thinking what the future holds for them in the areas of life partners, how to cope with the drugs (antiretroviral drugs)-every day of their lives, how to disclose their status to their spouses or friends, how to cope with day-to-day challenges and lots more. Clearly, some were depressed, anxious and so on – and these were mental health issues which then I didn’t know and thought it was just a feeling that would soon pass away.
Gede’s evolving focus on mental health is something good that has happened to people living with HIV (PLHIV) as their mental health issues can better be addressed. I hope that you will keep in touch with our work through these blogs and that you learn as much as I have about mental health as our journey continues…John Adokolo