Authorities at the Ministry of Health (MOH) said the Ministry has completed the training of 166 health personnel to provide mental health clinical services at various centers across the country.
The training of the personnel comes in the wake of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, recommitting WHO support to the Liberian government and stakeholders in providing needed technical support to address and restore the dignity of Liberians suffering from various forms of mental illness.
Amanda Gbarmo Ndorbor, Acting director of the Mental Unit at MOH made the disclosure during the Ministry of Information press briefing on Thursday in Monrovia.
She said the Unit has developed a comprehensive mental health strategic plan and national policy.
The exercise, she said, is to prioritize the provision of mental healthcare services to citizens across the country, but with basic concentration on Monrovia and its environs.
Madam Ndorbor said the goal of the new strategy is to provide quality services to persons having mental problems.
She said the strategy seeks to integrate mental health into primary healthcare services, where every clinic and health facility in the country will provide mental health services to anyone suspected of being mentally ill.
Ndorbor added that decentralizing mental healthcare service will ensure that mentally ill people would not have to travel to Monrovia for treatment, but will be treated at any of the nearby health posts.
The Unit, through the MOH, is collaborating with the WHO, The Carter Center, UNICEF and other partners involved in mental healthcare services to address the issue of stigma, train mental health clinicians and provide care for mentally ill persons.
This year’s world Mental Health Day was celebrated on Saturday, October 10 under the theme, “Dignity in Mental Health.”
In a related development, Liberia’s Chief Pharmacist has pledged government’s commitment to strengthening the country’s mental health service.
Mr. Tijli Tyee said the fact that a Mental Health Bill is before the National Legislature for enactment into law signifies the country’s readiness to tackle mental health related problems.
He made the statement over the weekend when Liberia joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Mental Health Day.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tyee said government is collaborating with partners to revamp the Mental Health Unit of the MOH to ensure that mental health treatment is available at health facilities across the country.
The WHO recently called on the Liberian government to review her legislation on mental health and its treatment to be able to protect the rights and dignity of persons affected by all forms of mental disorder.
In a statement issued last Monday during the celebration of World Mental Health Day, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said this year’s theme draws the attention of the Liberian government to the crucial need to ensure that dignity is preserved in all attitudes of the public towards Liberians who suffer from any form of mental disorder.
He said current estimates indicate that one out of every six Africans suffers from some form of mental disorder.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “in the course of treatment, some patients are subjected to undignified treatment, such as being chained to trees or beds, locked in a cage, left without food for many hours, deprived of family support and inadequate personal hygiene.”