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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Liberia: Sensitizing Citizens to Mental Health Illness, Ending Stigma

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Liberia’s outgoing Finance Minister, Boima Kamara, admitting to mental health challenges being responsible for his resignation underscores the need for mental health initiatives in the country.

Development Diaries reports that Kamara, during a closed-door meeting, acknowledged that his recent absence from his duty post was due to his struggle with mental illness.

We understand that Kamara is the first government official to admit mental health struggles given the low priority the country offers to mental health and how it is often viewed as a taboo.

‘I want to commend him for that’, said the Coordinator of Research Monitoring and Evaluation in the Mental Health Unit at the health ministry, Eric Weah.

‘I want to tell him that just by coming out serves as a motivational force to encourage others who are experiencing mental health problems to say it, so they can get helped’.

As many as one in five Liberians suffer a mild to moderate disorder, according to 2016 estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The fact that mental health issues are underreported in the country should be a concern as data and studies on the issues are needed to enable evidence-based advocacy and response.

The psychological impact of more than a decade of civil conflict and the Ebola outbreak has contributed to a mental health crisis in Liberia, and this is intensified by misconceptions, stigma, and discrimination surrounding mental disorders.

Development Diaries calls on the Liberian Health Ministry to intensify efforts, including working with civil society organisations (CSOs), in sensitising the public to mental health illness and ending the stigma.

By Jesse Kolo/Development Diaries

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