MOH Official Highlights Need For Expanded Mental Health Facility
The Director of Mental Health, Neurological and Substance Abuse (MNS) Unit at the Ministry of Health (MOH), Angie Tarr-Nyakoon, has underscored the need to construct a bigger psychiatric center in Liberia to accommodate more people who are struggling with mental illness.The call from the MOH official comes amidst the unavailability of space at the E.S. Grant Hospital in Duport Road, Paynesville where it has been observed that a large number of mental health patients on a daily basis queue to seek medication.
The E.S. Grant Mental Health Hospital in Monrovia is the only mental health hospital in Liberia. It has a capacity for 80 inpatients, and provides outpatient consultations several days a week.
Out of the 80 beds at the facility, Nyakoon told the Liberia News Agency (LINA) that 15 have been allocated for persons with substance use disorder thereby limiting the space to host others with severe mental health disorders.
Nyakoon stressed that the inability of duty bearers to provide better care for people with mental health issues, has resulted in the widespread and unrestricted movement of mentally ill persons in major parts of the city.
“Unless something is done pretty quickly to address this problem, it is bound to get worse because presently a lot of them (mentally ill) are not being treated due to limited beds and small space at the facility,” she added.
“It has also been shown that the mental health and psychosocial service providers and counselors of government institutions are overburdened with cases thereby resulting in the roaming in the streets and communities of persons with mental illnesses,” Nyakoon pointed out.
She said, many Liberians are of the belief that the increase in the wave of mental illness among young people is as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as a spill over of their experiences and/or involvement in the country’s civil war.
But she said some mental illnesses are believed to be caused by excessive drug and alcohol addiction amongst the youth.
In the midst of the challenges being faced, Nyakoon emphasized that the government is being assisted to address mental health issues by several non-governmental organizations that have resolved to provide counseling to people living with or developing stress or depression.
She named the Carter Center and the International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent, as well as UN Women-Liberia, the Cultivation for Users Hope, among others, as part of organizations providing assistance to the government mental health programs.
Nyakoon then applauded journalists who have taken the initiative to disseminate information about the issues of mental health in Liberia.
“We really want you people to help us do this and make government and partners see reasons to ensure that the well-being of persons living with mental illness be addressed as soon as possible, because they are also citizens and have the right to be treated as such,” she explained.