“Schizophrenia is on the Rise in Botswana”

  • Expert blames socio-economic challenges
  • Singles out the boy child for being particularly embattled
  • Says poor parenting contributes to the “abandoned pandemic”


Botswana is experiencing increasing cases of schizophrenia and an “escalating number and burden of (other) mental health illnesses”, the Minister of State, Kabo Morwaeng, has revealed.

Presenting the draft Transitional National Development Plan’s (TNDP) chapter on Human and Social Development to Parliament this week, Minister Morwaeng stated: “We experienced anxiety disorders and suicide cases, as well as a high prevalence of schizophrenia, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Schizophrenia is defined as a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally.

The affliction may result in a combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behaviour that impair daily functioning and can be disabling.
In an interview with The Botswana Gazette about what could be behind the increase in cases of the mental issue, the Managing Director of Joe Speaks, Dr Kgomotso Jongman, said it reflects the country’s socio-economic challenges.

“Mental health is not addressed at the micro level of families and this attitude has escalated to macro levels of the policy level stages,” said Dr Jongman, who is a social work scholar.

“So, the rise is not shocking because the problem is not being addressed in its entirety. It is an abandoned pandemic.

“Moreover, the headache of unemployment is hitting hard on our people, some of whom can go for so many years without a job and are yet expected to endure the high cost of living.

“This is hard, especially for the boy child. The other issue is in the form of problems imposed by social media, namely cyberbullying, fake expensive lives and peer pressure.
“All these, accompanied by poor parenting and our closed society, are contributing factors to an increase in mental health illnesses.”