Monrovia - The Project Director of the Mental Health Leadership Advocacy Program (mhLAP) in English-speaking West Africa and based in Nigeria,has donated at least 500 copies of a mental health treatment guide to authorities of the Ministry of Health.
Donating one copy of the Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) booklets to the Ministry, through Dr. Samson K. Arzoaquoi, Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services, Professor Oye Gureje, said the material is a clinical support tool that the World Health Organization (WHO) developed to be used by non-mental health specialists.
According to Prof. Gureje, who is also Director of World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Mental and Sustenance Use Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, University of Ibandan, Nigeria, the idea is that in many countries, including Liberia, mental health specialists are not enough to meet the challenges of mental health burdens.
“So, we need to empower those who are not specialists in order for them to receive basic trainings that allow them to be able to recognize and identify people with depression, psychosis, etc. and they can offer basic first line treatments,” Prof. Gureje, who is a Professor of Psychiatry, said.
“We are fortunate to now have a document so rich with most of the things that our mental health clinicians didn’t know. What more do we need to begin addressing mental health issues in Liberia? We now have a lot of materials; so let's begin the work”, Dr. Arzoaquoi stated.
He told the gathering, including mental health stakeholders, that the onus was now on them, to now begin providing first line treatments to people with mental health disorders.
Dr. Arzoaquoi, who also did the official launching of the mhGAP document, did so with the slogan: “mhGAP to make the difference”.
“The only value we can obtain from this document is to use it to the fullest.”
A representative of WHO Representative to Liberia commended the mhLAP Liberia Office and other partners for the document. He pledged WHO’s commitment to keeping the document alive in improving the lives of people with mental health disorders.
Local NGOs representatives, who made statement, thanked Prof. Gureje for the document, which they said will help non-mental health clinicians to help to identify people suffering from mental health disorders.
Also making remarks, the head of the mhLAP Liberia Office, Mrs. Samantha Thomas, said their works have just begun.
She hopes that 500 copies will reach every health center in the country.
Meanwhile, Dr. Benjamin Harris, the ‘only’ Liberian in-country practicing psychiatrist, has inducted into office a coalition of mental health stakeholders under the banner, Liberia Coalition of Mental Health Clinicians.
Dr. Harris, who is one of three practicing psychiatrists in the country, the other two being foreigners, said he was very glad to glad to witness the launching of the mhGAP document.
“I'm especially honored to be here to launch the Liberia Coalition of Mental Health Clinicians,” he added as he charged inducted men and women to do all to work for people with mental disorders.
Dr. Harris urged the authorities of the Health Ministry and other partners to work along with them so that people living with mental disorders can receive the first lines of treatments.