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WCR Youth Parliamentarians visit Tanka Tanka Hospital

Jan 20, 2011, 12:42 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawaneh

The honorable members of West Coast Region Youth Parliament, a subsidiary of the National Youth Parliament of The Gambia (NYP), recently visited the Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital.

NYP is a registered community-based organization. The NYP of The Gambia is a modern concept of youth participation with the ultimate goal of reducing the inter-generational gap that hinders and hampers the positive development of young people in The Gambia and all around the world.

The youth parliament of The Gambia has since its establishment in 2002 been making wonderful strives in national development, which include dealing with issues of Democracy, Human Rights, Good Governance, Youth Participation, Gender Advocacy, Training and Empowerment of young people of the Gambia on HIV/AIDS, Drugs and Substance Abuse, Effective Youth Leadership, and Environmental Protection.  It has also extended its arms to Youths and Mental Health issues.

The honorable Members of the West Coast Region Youth Parliament visited the Tanka Tanka Psychiatry Hospital with the speaker of the Lower River Region (Hon. Awa Ceesay).

Speaking at the hospital, the Speaker of the West Coast Region Youth Parliament Hon. Aminata Hydara, said: “As we are representing the voices of the young people in the region, we deem it necessary to visit and give our support to the patients.”

She added that as youth activists it is very paramount for them to know things affecting the youth, and mental illness is one of them.

“That is the reason we are here today; to learn as youths the causes of mental illness so that we can know how to prevent ourselves from it and also educate other youths on the causes of mental illness,” she says.

Hon. Hydara said many mentally ill people are often discriminated against and isolated by young people and as youth they should learn to help their fallow youths when they are in problem because they are leaders in the making.

To some it is normal because they believe is risky to mix with mentally ill people. “This is because their level of awareness is low on mental health,” he said.

She also stated that youths constitute the majority of the country’s population.

Hon. Awa Ceesay, Speaker of the Lower River Region, recommended the West Coast Region Parliament for the good initiative and said they should be emulated by others.

She also renewed her commitment towards the development of youths, saying many able-bodied youths are infected and so “we are also affected as a result of drug abuse and other social vices”.

Bamba Janneh, Head of Community Mental Team and a nurse at the hospital, welcomed the youth parliamentarians at the Tanka Tanka Hospital. He told them the number of patients in the hospital and said the main cause of the illness of most youths is drug abuse and stress. He also explained about patients being isolated and provoked by people, “which is very harmful to them”.

“There is no health without mental health,” he said, adding that mental health should be everyone’s business.

He also said the community health team is giving a lot of awareness to many communities across the country.

He added: “Youth’s idleness causes them to be involved in drugs which always begin with a stick of cigarette and then cannabis later to hard drugs. Many of the youths get mentally ill by drug abuse.”

He noted that some get mentally ill through stress and many could not cope or face the real life challenges because they don’t know the coping mechanisms and most of the times use drugs as coping mechanisms, which is very dangerous to their health.

He further recommended the West Coast Region Youth Parliament for the good work they doing in the region in creating awareness among young people.

He also recommended the government and the Ministry of Health And Social Welfare for their support to the hospital and the community mental team.

Dr Charles, a Cuban Technical Assistance doctor, said the hospital is in good condition and the Gambia mental system is very good. He also said that the hospital is equipped and has a good staff with standard accommodation.

The treatment is free for everyone and patients should be brought to the hospital on time, he said, adding that prevention is better than care and it is a good move when young people are ready to know the causes and signs of mental illnesses.

He recommended the community mental team for the awareness creation they have embarked on in the communities and to the patients and their relatives.

Omar Bojang, a Register Nurse of the hospital, also give some signs of mental abnormality such as crying, isolation, a lot of sleeping, talking to oneself and loss of appetite.

Causes of mental disorders are complex, he noted, saying that disorder varies in individuals. Genetics, early development, drugs, a loss of a family member, disease or injury, psychological mechanisms, life experiences, society and culture, can all contribute to the development or progression of different mental disorders.

Other parliamentarians in the tour said that if other people are contributing to mental health of the country “why not us”. They promised to support the community health team through their awareness campaign.

They also thanked the staff of the hospital for the warm welcome accorded them and the education that is given to them. They commended them for a job well done, and reiterated their support for the dissemination of mental health education.

The visiting young parliamentarians were exposed to some of the things that cause mental disorder.