New Teaching Hospital Planned – The Mental Health Crisis of Sierra Leone
H.E. C. Vassili (Cypriot citizen) Ambassador of the International Council of Professional Therapists (ICPT) and its sister organisation the ICPT International Human Rights Council, entered into talks with Sierra Leone Ambassador to the United Kingdom, H.E. E. Turay to help find a solution to Sierra Leone’s mental health crisis
Talks had led to an understanding that the ICPT plans to build a teaching hospital in Sierra Leone, where Sierra Leone citizens can be trained as mental health professionals and also allow patients to be properly treated
Vassili had expressed that the people of Sierra Leone have suffered in silence for too long and due to the heart warming and kind cooperation of H.E. Turay we are now able to plan such a teaching hospital to help those who presently have nowhere to turn to for help
Vassili further expressed that the ICPT estimates that over 30% of the Sierra Leone population has some form of emotional and or psychological ailment that can be easily overcome with the right help available.
He went on to say that the future of any nation is its children and if those children are raised in a society by adults who have psychological issues, then those same issues become learned behaviour by children which indirectly cripples a nation future, children are a product of the parent and its society.
H.E. E. Turay agreed that Sierra Leone needs a sound and stable mental health facility that can offer training and treatment to Sierra Leone citizens, such a place is desperately needed in Sierra Leone which will relieve suffering and help create a mental health infrastructure that at present is lacking in the country.
Mental health is a serious issue in Sierra Leone, one that has been grossly neglected and has had great criticism as well as condemnation by many human rights organisations worldwide and even by the World Health Organisation.
The issues do not relate only to the general public they go as far as the prison services in Sierra Leone, where it is estimated by the ICPT that 80% of inmates suffer from serious mental illness, which accounts to such high percentages of prisoners reoffending.
H.E. Vassili expressed that we do not condemn a man with a broken leg for not being able to run one mile, but we are ready to condemn a man with serious mental health issues for not being able to function normally for not even, one minute and not being able to distinguish from right or wrong; a man with a broken leg realises he cannot run a mile and logically does not, a man with mental illness does not realise he just acts without logic and control and often cause problems or harm to himself and often to others.
Speaking to people who have recovered from serious mental illness, who described their past illness as being lost and gave an example so as to help me better understand what they were going through, they asked me if I could imagine being blindfolded and placed in the driver’s seat of a fast moving car and let loose on the motorway, you do not know where you are going, what you are doing or who or what is around you, you act out of fear and feel your life at threat, you know you can hurt yourself and others around you, you lose control of all logical thinking and you act out of the unreal thoughts of fear and paranoia, and the more you notice people noticing your bizarre behaviour the more fearful and paranoid you become which again reflects upon your behaviour, it becomes an inescapable mental prison that the only escape is counselling therapy and medication.
Mental health has led to higher crime rates and reoffending, as well as increasing drug use and abuse and sexual crime, it is an issue that society has turned a blind eye to, hoping that it will go away on its own, the reality is, it will not go away, it will get worse unless we do something about it.
The location of the planned teaching hospital is to be in Freetown, it plans to initially apply training to ordinary citizens as mental health workers and further offer specialist training in counselling in drug abuse and rehabilitation, trauma counselling, HIV counselling, child counselling, family counselling and occupational therapist as well as health management and clinical consultants
H. E. Minister of Health, and The President of Sierra Leone, have highly praised and applauded the efforts and collaboration between H.E. C. Vassili and H.E. E. Turay.
By; Mr. Angelo Georgiou, International Reporter on African Affairs
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