Ecobank Liberia MD Calls for Robust Awareness on Mental Health

“Mental health issues can happen to anyone and it’s important we start talking and acting on it,” he said while presenting the items to Madam Parker.

--Identifies with E.S. Grant Mental Health Hospital

George Mensah-Asante, managing director of Ecobank Liberia, has appealed to every patriotic citizen in the country to stand up and raise awareness as well as help prevent mental health illness.

This, according to Mr. Asante, is necessary for view of the enormous stress people encounter while trying to play their part in sustaining the national economy. 

“I urged all of you to do everything that you can to raise awareness and help prevent mental health illness across the country,” he said.

Mr. Asante also stated that mental health can be emotional, psychological and social wellbeing—that affects how people think, act, feel and relate to others, handle stress and make choices. 

However, he said, across the world, over one million people are suffering from mental health illness and therefore, “we need to create an awareness on the illness.”

Mr. Asante, who spoke on Saturday, October 30, 2021, at the celebration of the ninth edition of Ecobank Day, urged Liberians to work collectively to defeat mental health disorder and other non-communicable diseases that is hampering the well-being of Liberians.

The day, which was celebrated at the E.S. Grant Mental Hospital in Duport, Paynesville, coincided with the donation of a washing machine, dryer, Mattresses, benches, assorted food and non-food items to administrator of the facility for use by the patients. 

It was well-attended by senior staff of Ecobank including, E.S. Grant staff, patients, friends and relatives as well as Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance family.

He said, “Mental health disorders are one of the most common Non-Communicable Diseases.

“They have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with quite a number of people suffering anxiety from social distancing and self-isolation, in addition to financial and health worries.

“Mental health issues can happen to anyone and it’s important we start talking and acting on it. We should have a society where people feel comfortable to talk about their emotions, without stigma, discrimination or abuse. Anyone suffering or experiencing mental health issues should be aware that they can get help. It’s time to talk and act on mental health.’

Mr. Asante further quoted the WHO are saying that non-communicable diseases are projected to exceed other diseases, which will cause a lot of death across Africa by 2030. 

“For this year, for better health campaign—we are concentrating on creating awareness on mental health disorder. We are encouraging everyone to show support and empathy for those suffering from mental health illness, so that society abandon the stigma, discriminations that has often surrender it (mental illness),” he said. 

Earlier, Nancy Narteh Willaims, Ecobank Liberia’s Country Treasurer, who provided the overview, told the gathering that the day was set aside particular by the bank to identify with society to make rare difference. 

In 2019, she said, the bank created awareness for non-communicable diseases but started off with breast cancer, in 2020, “we did diabetes awareness and this year, 2021, we are creating awareness on mental health to avoid the stigmatization and discrimination of people with mental health.”

Ms. Davidetta Parker, E.S. Grant Mental Health Hospital Administrator, who proxy for Mrs. Dama Yekeson Koffa, Deputy CEO of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital lauded Ecobank MD and staff for recognizing their facility on Ecobank Day, describing it as timely. 

She observed that mental health has been struggling in Liberia for a very long time—it has been little or no much attention been paid to the illness, attributing it to a low budgetary allotment on the part of the government.

This center, she said, is the only facility in the entire country that is holding people with mental illness. 

“We may not know, or see it but there are reports from WHO that says that one in every person have mental illness. Can you imagine how many of us is most likely to be affected?”

“So there is a lot that we need to do, a lot we have to do and we are so grateful that Ecobank Liberia has realize that working with mentally ill people or person with mental disability is about seriousness and needs to be addressed,” she said.

Also speaking, Dr. Fred Amegashie, Executive Director of NCD-Alliance, said he was privileged to work along with Ecobank Liberia not only on this program but they have been working on other health programs, including the screening of people with diabetes and creating awareness.

According to him, not too much have been done for people with mental health including budgetary increment and other support but “I am happy today that Ecobank has remembered people with such condition.”

“Just imagine, person with diabetes, hypotension (pressure) and research have shown that one out of every three persons in Liberia or West Africa have some form of hypotension—and these sicknesses are life time condition and if you have mental illness, just imagine what would happen to because such a person will not be able to take their medication on time. 

“So mental ill people are part of the society, therefore, it is our responsibility to include them in whatever programs or decisions we are making in the country should affect them, too,” he said. 

Ecobank Day is a group’s flagship annual corporate and social responsibility event that ‘gives back’ to the local communities across the Pan-African footprint.  The 2021 Ecobank Day had the theme ‘Mental Health – Time to Talk and Act!’. 

Ecobank Day started in 2013, focusing each year on a specific theme. These have been Education for young people in Africa (2013); Malaria prevention and control (2014); Every African child deserves a better future (2015); ICT education in schools and improving maternal health (2016); Safe water management (2017); Orphanages (2018); Cancer (2019); and Diabetes (2020