#National News

Foundation commits to ending stigma, discrimination in mental health

Jun 2, 2021, 11:11 AM | Article By: Sanna Jallow & Jarra Cham

Tommy Town Foundation, a local charity has expressed its resolve and commitment to ending stigmatisation and discrimination associated with mental health in the country.

Established in 2003, the charity started as a football club and is of the belief that to tackle mental disorders, people and communities have to change their perception and approach towards people with mental disorders.

Ahmed Jabang, national chairman of foundation described several initiatives the foundation has championed in addressing stigma and discrimination associated with mental health.

“It is good to help empower youths achieve their objectives by rendering support to members of the community on voluntary services.”

The foundation, he said, underpins the principles of demand driven and right-based approaches, of which forces are triggered by the overwhelming desire to reduce or alleviate the stigma and discrimination towards mental health affected persons.

“The foundation also aims to build up in-depth research on brain tumor and sensitisation on social and other health related issues.”

As a voluntary NGO, the foundation he said shall stand firmly in upholding the worth of human dignity through which the various empowerment projects will be pursued.

“The foundation in its drive will engage in multiple activities all geared towards creating a frame of support in mental and other health related issues,” he added.

Mam Jarra Marega, a nurse at Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital, while expressing appreciation of the work of foundation, maintained that stigma and discrimination in mental health remains a big challenge in addressing the issue of mental disorders in the country.

She acknowledged that NGOs are highly recognised globally, saying they have a code of conduct, one of which is to complement the efforts of Ministry of Health in any given country they operate.

She however, bemoaned the spike in mental health issues in the country, reminding that out more 100,000 people who have been affected by mental disorders, only 30,000 have access to right treatment, according to recent statistics.

Marega thus emphasised the need for people to change their mindset and perception regarding mental health affected persons.

Yusupha Darboe, Chief Executive Officer of Tommy Town Foundation said it is always sad and touching when travelling on the streets seeing those with mental disorders loitering around in the streets with no care or attention.

This, he said, motivated him to come up with this initiative to care for people with mental disorders in the country.

“When I went back to the United Kingdom, I work in the health care sector. I then specialise in mental health issues. But working at the mental health department in UK and knowing fully how they care for their patients, I said to myself I have to initiate similar things in my country. That’s how I came up with this campaign in The Gambia. I know there will be challenges but we are ready to tackle it.” he added.

Like previous speakers, CEO Darboe reiterated the need for people and even communities to change their mindset and the way it sees and treat people with mental disorders.

Momodou Lamin Drammeh also expressed similar sentiments.