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Give Mental Health a priority

Senator Peter Coleman of Grand Kru County disclosed last week in session that research conducted in Liberia shows that 40% of the country’s population suffers from post-traumatic illness. He made the disclosure when the Senate debated a Mental Health Bill before it following call here for its urgent enactment into law to cater for mentally ill people in Liberia.

“Anytime I see crazy people in the street, it worries me because these are people that need to be given serious attention in the country; an attempt to leave a mentally ill man without proper care will cause other people to be in danger, because that man could hurt anybody that comes his way or do anything”, said Liberia’s Culture Ambassador Julie Endee.

Since the end of the Liberian Civil War, mental health has become one of those areas of our society that is being totally ignored despite the huge presence of people with post-traumatic disorders in the streets. These people should be included in the government social welfare programs. But it seems like prolonged neglect has left them on the fringes of the society with no one to seek their needs, which makes it even more compelling for the current bill before our lawmakers to be passed into law with urgency.

Prior to the civil war, the government operated the Catherine’s Mills Rehabilitation Center at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia, which exclusively handled cases of mental health under the watch of the late Liberian psychiatrist Dr. Edward Grant.  

At nearly every street corner in Monrovia, you fine one or two mentally ill persons, including men, women and young people, sitting or scavenging in garbage cans and buckets for food while creating oozing smells in the air much to the discomfort of passersby. Some of these social deviants attack innocent people and sexually abuse women and girls.

We believe the senate would save the country of a future social calamity if it acted now by passing the Mental Health Bill currently before it because lest we should forget, “a stitch in time saves nine.” When enacted into law, that bill, no doubt will go a long way in addressing a major societal threat in our nation. That document is a critical societal issue that needs all of the attention it deserves.

Therefore, we challenge Senator Peter Coleman, himself a former minister of health and social welfare, to prevail on his colleagues in the senate to see the significance of passing the Mental Health Bill to cater for this sector of our society.

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