May 6, 2009, 6:13 AM
The mentally ill people are part of our society. Nowadays, it is common to see families totally abandoning their own people for the simple reason that they are mentally ill.
Some will even go to the extent of not wanting to associate themselves with the individual, just because the person is sick.
We have to understand that some mental illnesses are due to behavioral disorders and substance abuse, and most of the time the youth fall victim of this.
It is not part of our tradition to isolate the sick or to discriminate them. It should be a great concern to people that the number of people with mental disorders in the country is on the increase.
It is good to have a psychiatric hospital in the country, but it also requires the full support of both government and partners in order to address the needs of the hospital.
Health, as we always state, is a fundamental human right. So we strongly believe that the African governments need to invest a lot in their countries’ mental health programmes through the ministries of health. This can only be achieved by training doctors and nurses in order for our health workers working under the mental health programmes to effectively run them.
People should always visit their families at psychiatric hospitals. If the families are making frequent visits this would serve as a motivation to the patients and would help in the healing process.
The best time to assist a person is when the individual is sick.
The health workers should also be focused on community mental health activities by embarking on open field days with the local traditional healers.
We strongly recommend that governments, donors and groups representing mental health workers as well as patients and families need to work together to increase mental health services, especially in low and middle income countries and the financial resources needed should be put in place for the mental health activities.
In The Gambia, the Ministry of Health has put in place a mental health policy, and all that is needed now is to get support from both government and partners for the effective implementation of the policy.