A mental health group under the banner of Mental Health Leadership and Advocacy Program (mhLap) has called on the Government of Liberia to reopen the Catherine Mills Rehabilitation Center of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC).
Catherine Mills used to host and treat people with mental problems before the Liberian civil war erupted in December of 1989. Its facilities were looted and very badly destroyed; the buildings became homes for people seeking refuge from the warring factions. As the years rolled on, squatters encroached on the Center’s properties/land. After the war ended 10 years ago, getting them to leave is now a difficult situation for the JFKMC administration being led by Dr. Wvannie Mae Scott-McDonald. Dr. McDonald’s administration is doing all to put JFK back to its pre-war status in the midst of serious constraints facing the nation.
Speaking with the Daily Observer, she stated that her administration was doing all it can to have the facilities reopen in order to cater to people with disabilities. The JFK Chief Administrator disclosed that because squatters have refused to leave their properties, they had to take the matter to court and it is pending adjudication by the court.
Nevertheless, at the induction ceremony of its new crops of officers Wednesday, July 16, the Mental Health Leadership and Advocacy Program (mhLap) urged the hospital’s administrators to do all they can to have the facilities reopen as there are many people roaming the streets with mental disabilities.
Studies have shown that at least 40 percent of Liberia’s population has mental problems and the common one, according to Mr. Ali Sylla, a seasoned mental health clinician and licensed professional counselor, is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He said this is because of the long years of civil war that Liberians went through.
At the induction ceremony, the new leadership of the mhLap stakeholders’ council promised to take seriously mental health situation in the country.
They said they would prioritize addressing the needs of people with mental disabilities.
In addition to calling for the reopening of the Catherine Mills, they also called on the government to have a separate budget for mental health-related issues. They also called for the continuation of timely supply and availability of psychotropic drugs in all primary health care facilities around the country.
Making a special remark, Dr. Benjamin L. Harris, Chief Psychiatrist, Republic of Liberia and CEO of Special Assessment and Management Services (SAMs), reminded the inducted officers that one of the problems facing mental health in developing countries is poor information dissemination about the problems associated mental health. Dr. Harris admonished them to do their duties with diligence.