Cultivation for Users Hope, a local group at a daylong engagement with the Liberian media through the Press Union of Liberia discloses that about 40 percent Liberians are afflicted with mental disorder.
It quotes current World Bank statistics as indicating about 10 percent of the world’s population lives with mental illness, many of which is caused by depression.
According to the Carter Center, 40 percent of the 4.5 million Liberians have symptoms of major depression, while about 44 percent appears to have post-traumatic stress disorders.
It is also estimated that 50 to -70 percent of women and girls in Liberia were sexually assaulted during the civil war and about 11 percent has contemplated suicide. Due to the dearth of mental health services in the country, only a handful of persons with mental illness received treatment, says the report.
The media engagement, which took place in Monrovia, saw mental health practitioners, officials of the local group, and members of the media discuss how the media could help in reducing this alarming percentage.The report also indicates that only a handful of persons with mental illness here receive treatment.
The situation is so alarming that it’s not limited to urban areas, as many in rural Liberia are said to be faced with similar conditions that continue to tear families apart. Though there has been no established data, reports from rural Liberia indicates that some men are angrily killing family members, including wives and innocent people over very small issues that could have been easily negotiated and settled by immediate interventions of elders or community leaders.
There is a tendency in Africa at large and Liberia is no exception, to ignore and brand mentally ill people as alcoholics and drug-users; neglected and left to survivein the streets with their children. These mentally ill people and their family always face stigma in various communities hence, a need for the Liberian government to act and acknowledge the situation with policies to tackle and impact this growing threat to the society.
Cultivation for Users Hope works in the interest of persons living with mental illnesses at all levels through advocacy, capacity building, empowerment, awareness and stigma reduction. It also provides community engagement and outreach by working with communities and families to raise awareness about mental illnesses; fighting abuses and violence that persons living with mental illnesses face, while promoting sustainable livelihood development.By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor– Editing by Jonathan Browne