This year’s celebration of world Mental Health Day in Liberia on Saturday, October 10 under the theme “Dignity in mental health,” may have highlighted the plight and well-being of the mentally challenged.
Of course, highlighting people who are mentally ill in the Liberian society may have been a result of the many concerns, including ours, expressed to the Liberian Government, about the growing number of people with mental disability on the streets of Monrovia and elsewhere in the country.
As part of efforts to cater to this group of Liberians with mental disability, the Ministry of Health recently announced that preparations were ongoing for the construction of homes for these people.
Towards this direction, the ministry has also completed training and capacity-building for 166 health personnel to provide mental health clinical services at health centers across the country.
In its quest to prioritize the provision of mental healthcare services to citizens, a comprehensive mental health strategic plan and national policy has been developed by the Ministry of Health to also integrate mental health into primary healthcare services , wherein every clinic and health facility in the country will provide mental health services to citizens.
The primary goal of the new strategy, according to the ministry, is to provide quality services to persons having mental problems in a decentralized mental healthcare system to ensure that mentally ill people will not have to travel to Monrovia for treatment.
It has always been a compelling and urgent need for the Government of Liberia to give attention to the increasing number of mentally ill people roaming the streets of Monrovia and other places in country, but nothing or very little has been done in favor of mental health.
But with the latest pronouncements coming out of the Ministry of Health on efforts by the government to address the mental health needs of the country, we think there’s ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for the mentally ill.
As we cautiously await to see the comprehensive mental health strategic plan and national policy get off the ground, in terms of implementation in practical terms, the Government of Liberia must be commended just for making known such action plan.
As we hail the partnership between the government and Carter Center, with specific focus on mental health program to help the country build a sustainable mental health system that can address this void, the collaborative efforts of the World Health Organization or WHO, United Nations Children Organization or UNICEF and other partners involved in reviving mental healthcare to address the issue of stigma, train mental health clinicians and provide care for mentally ill persons in the country must also be welcomed.
We only look forward to the practical implementation of these good mental healthcare plans and programs in the shortest possible time.