University of The Sacred Heart Gulu wants massive research on mental health 

(Last Updated On: 6 April 2023)

University of the Sacred Heart Gulu is a unique Christian-oriented private university offering courses focused on people’s health.

Some of their courses include diplomas, bachelor’s degrees, and a post-graduate diploma in counseling and psychology, intelligence and data analytics, strategic management and leadership, and also information systems.

During the University’s second graduation held last week, the university implored counseling and psychology graduates to “offer massive research” as trauma looms among the people of Acholi sub-region.

According to the University, high trauma cases have led to many cases of mental illness cases.

At least 15 out of 32 students took part in the 2nd graduation. The first graduation was held on October 1, 2021, and 25 graduated.

The University records show that a total of 57 graduates have been produced since 2021.

After the graduation, TND News Lil Romeo Okot talked to the Chairman of the University Governing Council who also doubles as the Bishop of Lira Catholic Diocese, Sanctus Lino Wanok.

Also read: Gulu City: Covid-19 takes blame as 11 teachers suffer from mental illness

Lino tasked graduates to use the knowledge they have attained to “research deep on the rampant trauma cases and corruption in this region to transform the local community”.

“Public funds in Uganda have become individual development,” Dr. Wanok says, “citing some government workers who earn only shs3m and below,” adding that “they are looting public funds…however, you find he or she will build up big houses leaving the local community to suffering”.

“When the system of corruption does not fit you, they will reject you for jobs,” Bishop Lino said.

The Chairman told the graduates not to stop researching. “Investigate many people in Uganda who are taking people’s lives, and also killing themselves recklessly.”

According to him, the “types of courses” at the University of Sacred Heart Gulu should bring a way of liberating people from vices. “…. because the causes of such killings would be identified by researchers.”

Nowya East Member of Parliament, Okello Geoffrey Charles Komlok notes that with the available psychologists and counseling experts in the region, “it is an opportunity”.

“Those graduates should not claim to be looking for jobs yet there are works in the local community in counseling and finding facts on trauma which are causing mental illness,” Komlok told TND News.

MP Okello disclosed that through community psychology and counseling, the issue of mental illness will be addressed successfully. He, however, criticized the government of Uganda, claiming that the regime is not bothered about addressing the post-LRA vs NRA wars waves which lasted for more than 25 years in northern Uganda.

“The effects are causing trauma to the people of northern Uganda up to now,” he said.

“Last year in Omoro district, over 7 government-aided primary schools were traumatic due to regular attacks by evil spirits which claimed to be a result of post-war conflicts in northern Uganda. The attacks made over 100 pupils affected, and no response from the government to support the affected school.”

According to a report of 2022 on mental health from Gulu referral hospital, over 3,484 cases of mental health were registered within seven months.

The cases registered include anxiety 213, bipolar disorder 206, post-war traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] 185, schizophrenia 35, HIV related psychosis 25, among others.

In the same report, over 500 patients suffering from mental illnesses were recorded per month and about 90 percent of those admitted with mental illness have abused drugs.

Michael Lakony is the LC5 chairman of Amuru district who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in counseling and psychology from the University of Sacred Heart Gulu. He tells TND News that he took “distinctive research on trauma and impact of Covid-19 in the community”.

According to Lakony, he focused on the Elegu town council as it connects Uganda to South Sudan, adding that many communities suffered during two-year of Covid-19 battles.

“I deliberately took efforts to know the impacts of Covid-19, many communities became vulnerable as their businesses were degraded, young girls turned to prostitution to earn money, and it has caused a lot of depression, psychological distress; physical deterioration in life and no access to medication.”

“This made vulnerable people lose a life, parents resolved to alcoholism and teenage pregnancies hiked up.”

The Vice Chancellor of the University Rev. Father Dr. Jino O. Mwaka said the University has a project with students doing counseling and psychology.

“The University is using vibrant engagement and outreach to the community on psychological support we provide,” he said. They organize training on counseling, and financial inclusion, among others.

“As a religious institution, we are passing personal religious information to the mentally ill and traumatic people through the words of God,” Vice Chancellor revealed.

He urged all the graduates to use their knowledge for further research on trauma in the region while criticizing the government for not supporting researchers to understand the high rates of killing and suicide in the local community.

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