October 11, 2018
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Advocacy for Mental Health and Human Rights (AMHHR) has lamented that there was strong stigma against mental illness as society discriminates against anyone with a sign of mental health.
According to Madam Kona Seibure, people use the condition of those with mental health problems to label them and stigmatise their entire family.
“Parents live in denial when their children start exhibiting early signs of stress, anxiety and challenging behaviour. They look for other reasons to explain such behaviour, instead of seeking help early to support their kids,” she said.
She said the country lacks trained personnel with the right skills, coupled with inadequate numbers of facilities, to deliver effective mental healthcare, adding that where facilities exist they are poorly equipped, with improper treatment delivered to individuals.
Madam Seibure assured of working with young people to tackle stigma surrounding mental health and also help raise awareness of the vital importance of children and young people’s resilience and good mental health across the nation.
She urged the government to provide services and safe mental healthcare nationwide, including specialist services for young people who are at different stages of their development and are faced with the difficult task of coping with the stress of education and several traumatic experiences.
“We shall continue to strive because we know we owe the young people of Sierra Leone an obligation to ensure that they grow up in safe and sustainable environments and are able to achieve their full potentials,” she said.
She claimed that for many people growing up as a young person in Sierra Leone today means they will either grapple with an ongoing battle against poverty or experiencing the effects of substance misuse or abuse in homes, schools, the wider community and among peers.
Sierra Leone yesterday joined other countries around the world to observe this year’s World Mental Health Day. The day is observed every 10th October each year with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.
It also provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental healthcare a reality for people worldwide.
Meanwhile, the AMHHR CEO and founder maintained that the most pressing issues in the country now are high scale youth unemployment and poor educational attainment, which undermines the potential of many young people to achieve their dreams and aspirations, and instead resort to taking hard drugs and indulging in other forms of substance abuse to overcome their difficulties.