WHO Wants to Support GOL on Mental Health Issues

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Dr. Bernice Dahn, Minister of HealthFINAL.jpg
Former Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa has said that the WHO is committed to supporting 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.
The Liberian government, he said, must review legislation about mental health and its treatment to be able to protect the rights and dignity of persons affected by the condition.
In a statement issued last Monday during the celebration of World Mental Health Day under the theme, ‘Dignity and Mental Health,’ he stated that the 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.”
He said mental health patients deserve respect and compassion as they cope with their disease, in the same way it is deserved and expected by those who suffer from any other disease.
Dr. Moeti said some countries in Africa, (which he did not identify), have implemented a range of measures to improve awareness, restore dignity, and access to mental health services at all levels of the health care system.
“This includes revision of their mental health legislation in order to protect the rights and dignity of persons affected by the condition.
“And despite these measures, the promotion of good mental health and understanding of its challenges, together with early detection, treatment, and dignity for the patients are still a concern in many African countries,” he said.
He acknowledged the lack of trained and motivated personnel in the area of mental health and psychiatry.
Dr. Moeti said the WHO has recognized the need for action to address mental health needs and its Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP), supports countries to improve the quality of life and well-being of persons suffering from mental health disorders.
Dr. Moeti appealed to the Liberian government and its partners to improve mental health services by tackling discrimination through individual and community initiatives, as well as strengthening national programs, policies and legislative measures to intensify support from partners, civil society and donors to address the growing problem in the country.
According to sources, mental disorders include people who demonstrate fear to be alone, and who think that some people in the dark would be coming to capture and kill them. Others include many who are insane and roaming the streets of Monrovia, and other cities, unable to take care of themselves. There are still many with different forms of mental problems, from severe to light disorders, health officials said.
They told the Daily Observer that there is little research on interventions for the severe illnesses that have led many young men and women to develop mental problems. He hoped that the Liberian government would take advantage of the WHO offer to be able to provide help to Liberians who have been caught in the web of mental disorders.

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