#Article (Archive)

Journalists Must Fight Stigma

Feb 10, 2009, 5:23 AM

Once again the vital role of journalists in the lives of the people of The Gambia is once again being highlighted at the moment. A three-day training workshop for health journalists opened yesterday at The Gambia Press Union secretariat along Garba Jahumpa Road, Bakau Newtown. The training is being organized by Media Agenda with funding from NATCOM. Participants were yesterday given instruction in the areas of responsible journalism and diabetes and today's agenda will include presentations on mental health.

This issue - mental health - is a particularly important one. Communities in The Gambia are faced with numerous, mental, neurological, and psychosocial disorders that undermine development.Based on prevalence rates from the World Mental Health Survey, 2004 it is estimated that approximately 27,000 people in The Gambia (or 3% of the population aged 15 years and more) is suffering from a severe mental disorderand a further 91,000 (or 10% of thepopulation aged 15 years and more) are suffering from moderate to mild mental disorder. This means that at least 118,000 people in The Gambia (or 13% of the adult population) are likely to be affected by mental disorders which require varying degrees of treatment and care.

It is essential that journalists continue to educate the public so as to fight stigma and discrimination and bring these people who do suffer from mental illness in from the margins of our society. We wish all those colleagues involved in this training well and urge them to do the best they can to help those who are vulnerable in our society. To the general public we ask for tolerance and understanding for those who suffer these terrible afflictions.