Liberian Mental Health Service Users have returned to the country, following a week-long Global Mental Health Campaign Planning Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, a release has said.
The meeting, according to the release, brought together mental health leaders and civil society actors from 14 countries around the world, who sought to build a common action plan for beneficiaries of mental health services, including service providing institutions to impress on governments and the international community to increase funding support and human resources for mental health around the world.
The meeting convened by the South Africa Federation for Mental Health (SAMFH) and the UK-based campaign group, United for Global Mental Health, sought to improve cooperation and synergies among mental health actors across the world.
It has been recognized globally that mental health services are inadequate to meet the needs. Among the key factors that stymie equity for persons who need mental health services, include lack of funding support, inconsistent and inadequate supplies of medications and treatment to stigma and discrimination.
Irrespective of development, these factors plague countries at different levels.
According to the release, the Liberian team led by Reverend Bill S. K. Jallah, national president of Cultivation for Users Hope, Liberia’s only mental health service user organization, included Famatta Stewart, Cell Leader of the Group’s Kakata Cell and Matthew Nyanplu, Technical Coordinator of the group.
The Group President, Bill SK Jallah, added: “A new day is dawning in the lives of persons with mental ill health in Liberia and around the world,” and that he was excited to have the opportunity to participate in the global mental health planning meeting.
The meeting was designed to support mental health services users build coalitions and alliances to improve access to services, increase their voice in decision-making about their lives and to eliminate stigma and human rights abuses.
Rev. Jallah recognized gains his organization has made in advancing the agenda for persons with personal experience of mental ill health in Liberia, but also that “many countries are ahead of us.”
Jallah furthered that they are now embolden to demand greater actions and attention from governments around the world, including the Liberian government to ensure that the fundamental human rights of persons with mental ill health are protected, and that they too can enjoy access to health, and other vital services to which all citizens are entitled.
Liberia faces acute challenges in providing mental health services for its citizens, because the country has only three practicing psychiatrists at any one time, with only one Liberian psychiatrists, and approximately over 300 certified mental health clinicians, who provide mental health and addiction services across the country.
Additionally, over 500 healthcare workers have been trained in mental health in primary care (mh-GAP).
From the perspective of persons with mental health conditions, the visible impacts of the failing mental health system include the number of persons with mental illness in the streets across the country.
The ES Grant Mental Hospital lacks the capacity to cope with the demand for services in the country. These challenges according to Jallah, can be surmounted when the stakeholders and policy makers pay attention.
According to Jallah, anybody can experience mental illness, therefore, if government invests in addressing mental illness and meeting the needs of those who are affected, the country will be creating a better future where all persons are assured of good health and better lives.