11 June 2019

Sierra Leone: 'Mental Health Is Everybody's Business'

Programs Manager of Mental Health Coalition Sierra Leone (MHCSL), Joshusa Abioseh Duncan, has last Friday averred that mental health is everyone's business, and that it is the right of everybody to enjoy the highest standard of physical and mental health.

He said people with HIV and TB have greater risk for mental disorders which are associated with increased morbidity, mortality, drug-resistance, and community transmission.

He added that treating mental disorder among individuals with HIV is associated with greater medication adherence and that he same is likely for TB though more operational research was needed.

"Without addressing mental health, there will be no end to HIV and TB. As a world leader in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria, the global funds use the opportunity of the 6th replenishment conference to strengthen the integration of mental health into its responses to HIV and TB," he said.

The Program Manager was speaking at a three-day mental health workshop hosted by MHCSL, together with different people from Liberia and Sierra Leone, at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yok hotel in Freetown on the theme "Speak Your Mind Campaign for Mental Health."

He explained that the 'Speak your Mind Campaign' was organized by the United Global Mental Health, stating that Sierra Leone has got outstanding influence and greater strike in the field of mental health, which he said prompted the workshop.

He said the outcome of the workshop would focus on building capacity and advocacy skills to campaign for mental health.

"Adolescents are at higher risk of poor mental health, substance abuse and death by suicide than the average population. Young women are also at risk because of HIV and TB infection due to gender based violence and unprotected sexual intercourse," he said.

Also speaking was the Coordinator for 'Speak Your Mind Campaign', Erica Esposito, who said the importance of the campaign was for Sierra Leoneans and Liberians to collaborate and create ideas on how they can influence the government to invest more on mental health.

She said a mental health service has been accessible to everyone in both countries.

She added that the 'Speak Your Campaign' aimed to catalyze government action on mental health, to improve the accessibility and quality of mental health services nationally and globally.

She further that the WHO's mental health gap action programme has identified several evidence-based psychological and medical interventions that can be delivered effectively by non-mental health specialists with adequate supervision.

She concluded that the Global Fund replenishment provides a timely and urgently needed opportunity to provide adequate mental health services that will not only lower HIV and TB transmission rates, improve the lives of those living with HIV and TB, but also allow the next significant step towards HIV and TB eradication.

National Mental Health Coordinator at Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Madam Kadiatu Savage, said they organised the three-day training to raise awareness on mental health issues in Sierra Leone.

She noted that persons with mental health suffer as a result of stigma and that Sierra Leone was among the 15 countries that are fighting against mental health.

She added that they have a home for mentally ill people-Kissy Mental Home.

She noted that people should come on board to help fight mental health and called on community people to stop stigmatizing people that are mentally affected.

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