On Monday, August 19, hundreds of service users, under the banner Cultivation for Users' Hope, presented a petition to the Legislature, seeking for the allotment of funding by national government to implement the National Mental Health Policy and Strategy Plan.
Presenting the petition, the President of the group, Bill S. Jallah, lauded the government and her partners for the level of support so far in raising mental health issues nationally.
"We applauded in particular, the 2017 passage of the Mental Health Law which calls for the protection and promotion of the fundamental Human Rights of all persons living with Mental illness in Liberia" Jallah said, "we also note with great appreciation the [development and adoption of the] 2016 Mental Health Policy and strategic plan."
Although the Mental Health Law has been passed, it is yet to be printed into hand bills for public consumption. Authorities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [responsible for printing the law into hand bills] are yet to make any comment. Moreover, a mental health policy and strategy plan was developed and adopted three years ago.
The policy seeks to modernize existing mental health services in the country, create new and additional services, recruit and train more skilled staff and create a linkage to other government and non-government sectors to improve the quality of care available to all persons with mental illness.
Jallah asserted that Liberians are good at crafting policies, but to do follow-up and ensure implementation, is always the challenge. He indicated that similarly, the mental health policy and strategic plan adopted three years ago, has not been prioritized adding "government inaction is causing the country so much."
He continue: "The failure to follow up on these policies is affecting the lives of persons suffering from Mental illnesses and has resulted in these persons living on the streets--families neglects them, [and] while some are at the mercy of community people. Persons with mental illness suffer the most erroneous abuses yet unreported and to which there is no cause or resort."
Jallah lamented the lack of treatments and medication for persons living with mental illness is causing an alarming rate of relapses among those living in the state of recovery. He used the occasion to call on the government of Liberia to place priority on mental health, while discussing the 2019/2020 national budget.
CFUH is a non-for-profit organization run by mental health service users and persons living with mental illness in Liberia. It was established in July, 2014 with the objective to advance social inclusion and integration of Mental Health service users, through sustained advocacy, effective community engagements, capacity building, empowerment, awareness and stigma reduction.
The organization is also working to improve the livelihoods and psychological wellbeing of persons living with mental illnesses and support them to live on an equal basis with others; where they face no discrimination, violence and abuses of any kind.