House Passes Law to Protect Persons with ‘Mental Disorders’

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Mentally disabled persons abandoned in the streets of Monrovia

Members of the 53rd Legislature yesterday passed a law to protect persons with mental disorders and/or persons with mental disabilities from discrimination, stigmatization, and marginalization on the basis of their mental or intellectual disability.

The law was forwarded to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for approval.

Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate amended the Public Health Law, Title 33, and Liberian Code of Laws Revised, which added Part VIII, Health and Related Rights, Chapter 2, Mental Health.

On Tuesday, May 23, the House unanimously concurred with the Senate, which the Upper House has since passed on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

Mentally disabled persons abandoned in the streets of Monrovia

Accordingly, the Law gives equal access and right to healthcare for all persons, and persons with mental disorders and/or mental disabilities (crazy person/s) to also have a right to treatment of the same quality and standard as all other persons.

Also known as “the Mental Health Act,” the Law protects the property of persons with mental disorders and/or mental disabilities and provides and promotes mental health well-being, and care for all persons and the communities in which they reside, nationwide, for the full implementation of this Act.

This act is intended to “provide for and protect the civil, social and health rights of all persons with mental disorders and/or mental disabilities including persons with intellectual disabilities; promotes and regulates equitable and effective access to timely, appropriate and quality mental healthcare, treatment, habilitation and rehabilitation for all persons in the 15 counties, including those with mental disorders and/or mental disabilities; establish and enforce the responsibilities and obligations of the government in carrying out the duties set forth.”

The act further intends to “Support optimal well-being, independence and liberty of persons with mental disorders and/or mental disabilities, including persons who have committed crimes, within the bounds of the law’ promote mental health in society and establish oversight of mental healthcare through the Ministry of Health (MoH) and its mechanisms for health promotion and quality assurance; create a national advisory body on mental health and provide for related matters.

Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 46/119 on December 17, 1991, on the UN Principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of Mental Healthcare.

These principles lay down provisions to promote the rights of mentally disabled persons in healthcare. There are specific provisions on informed consent, confidentiality, standard of care and treatment and the rights available to inmates of mental disability institutions. Principle 1(4) prohibits discrimination on the ground of mental disability.

It may be recalled that the director of Mental Health at the MoH, Angie Tarr Nyakon, told reporters that the passage of the Act will help improve the country’s mental health system to allow nearly all patients have access to mental health medication.

She stated that the law if approved will decrease the number of persons living with mental illness in the country.

Author

  • I am a Liberian journalist, born November 7 and hailed from the Southeast and of the kru tribe. I began contributing to the Daily Observer 2008 and was fully employed in 2012. I am the 3rd of eight children and named after my great grandfather. Am happily married with three children (girls). I am a full member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and also the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) and the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL). I can be contacted through email: [email protected] or cell number/WhatsApp: (+231) 0886585875 or Facebook.

9 COMMENTS

    • From a sincere background, let me start by congratulating those like brain lawmakers that born the idea of “The Mental Health Act”.
      Recommendations:

      That if approves by the President, the government should build housing units in each of the 15 sub political divisions (counties) of LIBERIA that shall house those with mental disorder
      before taking them to hospital.

      That if this Act is approves, its implementation should be followed up to letter, meaning no clause in this Act should be left untouched.

  1. As a country coming out of civil war, this should have been one of the very first of legislations you guy should have passed if you really care about our people…An comprehensive health care bill that combined health, mental, dental and eye care etc…Shameful and un-caring.

  2. This is a very good law. Every society is measured by how it treats its vulnerable population. Many thanks to the Ministry of Health, partners, and advocates for continuing to stress how important mental health and other cares and protection of vulnerable people remain essential. This is another tool that will help to improve health, social services, and development in Liberia.

  3. Hopefully this will provide some opportunities for some members of both houses to get treatment for hoarding resources to themselves, greed, corruption and laziness. Those vices are harmful to our society than other mental illnesses. I will request that corruption be added to the Liberian DSM.

  4. Good news for some of our brothers and sisters on the other side of life. If those who correct can at least respect and honor those who ain’t correct this is good news. If God the son Jesus honor one man in the Bible by healing and sending him home, what more about us human? All people no matter their conditions should enjoy life and live fearless, because he who give life said, i didn’t come to condemn but to cherish and save. So do not take advantage of those we called CRAZY PEOPLE in Liberia because if you do, you will feel bad.

  5. Please educate the people!! Are there facilities and/or professionals to work with our ” challenged” population?
    Nice start, nonetheless!

  6. The Mental Health Leadership and Advocacy Program in Liberia extends heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the President Madam Ellen J. Sirleaf, the Senate and Representatives for job well done.
    Our Organization, mhLAP, therefore, appeals to the House of Representatives to please create a small budget for Mental Health comes 2017-2018 budget formulation.

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