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Liberia

Liberia, the first African republic, has a population of 3.5 million people. The country lies on the west coast of Africa and shares common boundary with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. The country’s only psychiatrist, Dr. Benjamin Harris, faces a herculean task. There are several mental health clinicians who are nationally recognized.  
The government of Liberia is partnering with NGOs and INGOs that are offering mental health care in an attempt to address the country’s diverse range of mental health problems. Liberia hopes to achieve this through an instrument known as the National Mental Health Policy.  This policy reflects the commitment to develop a system that incorporates all areas of health and health delivery.
Many sufferers of mental illness in Liberia are not properly cared for. A whole lot of them don’t have access to Medicare while at the same time lack other basic needs.

Liberia`s Current Mental Health Status
At present, there is only one mental health hospital in Liberia. This only hospital is located near the capital, in Paynesville City. Not many people have access to this facility.   The urban areas of the country have limited trained manpower to cater to the mental health needs of our people.  Psychotropic drugs for people with mental illness are in short supply when found.
Carter Center is partnering by training mental health clinicians to help skill up professional manpower in mental health area.  Even though the national budget is low for mental health, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is collaborating with implementing partners to address the needs of mental health situations in Liberia.
To date, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital conducts mother to child psychiatric program and provides treatment for individuals and groups as well as family therapies to the elderly with mental health problems.

MhLAP Liberia

Through the support of Dr. Benjamin Harris the only psychiatrist in Liberia, mhLap came into the Country. Dr. Oye Gureje the founder of mhLAP in West Africa first visited Liberia in October 2011 to the plant root of mhLap in Liberia. Immediately after his visit an office was established and active activities began in February 2012. The country Facilitator is Mrs. Sametta Thomas, a professional Social Worker.
The objective of mhLap-Liberia is to conduct intensive advocacy on issues of mental health in Liberia and instigate the legislation of policies in this direction.



Since the program the following activities have been conducted:

  • Conducted a research in three counties to gather data for the preparation of the situation analysis.
  • Collaborating with the mental health team at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. This leads to participating in regular coordination meetings.
  • Have initiated the process of forming a mental health stakeholders Council for mhLap in Liberia.
  • Have indentified 5 secondary schools within which the first set of awareness session will be held.
  • Have identified one national radio station to utilize in conducting media awareness.


Challenges:
Since its establishment mhLap Liberia has experienced some challenges along the way.

  • Limited resources for transportation to cover the entire country in the startup activities.
  • Limited cooperation from other partners in obtaining information – because the program is still new and unknown in the country.


Looking Ahead

In the months of August and September, mhLAP Liberia will be conducting the following activities and programs:

  • Planning activities for the celebration of the World Mental Health day;
  • Implementing programs and activities for the World Mental Health Day;
  • Conducting awareness on mental health issues in schools. The awareness will be focused on three effects of drugs abuse among students and to provide basic information on epilepsy as a common mental illness experienced among pupils;
  • Conducting talk show on issues of “Depression” – which is the 2012 theme for world mental health day; and
  • Working along with other partners to plan activities for the celebration of the world mental health day in Liberia.


    Updates on mhLAP activities in Liberia

    Survival Reports Liberia


MhLAP – Liberia Contact:
Mrs. Sametta Thomas
Country Facilitator mhLap –Liberia
Randall Street, Monrovia, Liberia
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cell #: 0886514547

 

 

Comments on our Training

I have been an advocate for 3 years now but I have never been so equipped like I did with this training and it will go to show even in my work as a radio presenter, even in areas that are not Mental Health related.

Lamin K. Sanyang, The Gambia

“The training has made me a better presenter and producer. I have written down topics that could be discussed on my programme. I also plan to reach out to the president’s wife NGO on the issue of mental health through the advocacy skills I have learnt from the training and then produce jingles in between programmes on mental health

Fatima Hassan, Markudi, Nigeria

 

“I am grateful for this opportunity to come to Nigeria and be part of this training, I feel greatly empowered”

Boniface Chitayi, Kenya

 

“I have attended lots of training but this mhLAP training has more positive impact on me than all other trainings I have attended. I have learnt the skills I need to advocate for mental health issues. I plan to factor in mental health into the district work plan in Sierra Leone

Hannah Bockarie, Sierra Leone

 

“The course was a great awakening. I feel a great burden in my heart because I now realize that there is much work to be done. I plan to adopt two PHCs in Osun state and offer free psychiatrist ser

Opakunle Tolulope, Osun, Nigeria

 

‘It was a nice multicultural experience from different African countries and a means of networking. Thank you very much’

Roseline –A – Okoth, University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences, Kenya

 

 

‘The course was very interesting, informative, educative and very interactive. The application of group work after every lecture also facilitates practical applicability of all the lectures. I have learnt various multidimensional means of promoting, preventing and carrying out advocacy for many areas of mental health disorders. I congratulate the organizers for a great work’

Dr. A.O Coker

‘Exposure to mental health care perspectives from various countries has given me a well rounded perspective of mental health care in Africa’

 

Aneshrey Moodley,  Consultant psychiatrist, South Africa

‘I had a good experience both with the facilitators and co-participants. This is more in terms of the multidisciplinary approach to mental health issues. There was clear absence of over simplified assumptions for professional convenience (psychiatrists).’

 

Akpoju Ogbole Samuel, Programme Officer, Nigeria

‘Learning took place formally during the session and during the group work. Significant learning also took place during informal interaction out of session learning about the experiences in different country. I feel better equipped to function in the stakeholder council and also in my work as head of a faith based health need’

 

Walter Carew, Executive Director, (CHASL) Sierra Leone

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