Amid mental health law, survey reveals patients face unfair treatment


DIXVILLE, Montserrado – Wednesday October 10 marked World Mental Health Day, a day designed to draw attention to the importance of mental health.

In Liberia, programs were organized at the Ministry of Health and at the ES Grant Mental Health Hospital in Paynesville, under the theme: “Youth and Youth in a Changing World”.

One of the speakers who spoke at the program at the Ministry of Health, Jutomue Doetein, named depression as the most common mental health problem among young people.

Doetein heads the Forum of Children’s Representatives of Liberia, formerly the Children’s Parliament. He stressed the need for more awareness raising to promote adolescent and young adult mental health.

He also stressed the need to expand mental health services for young people and urged the government to enforce the implementation of existing mental health laws.

In 2017, a mental health law was passed and enacted to protect people with mental illnesses. The Carter Center, which is currently on the front lines in the fight to increase coverage of mental health treatment, welcomed the enactment of the law, hoping it would reduce the amount of inhumane treatment against people living with mental illness.

However, a Bush Chicken investigation found that many people with mental health problems face a challenge of serious mistreatment from society.

Investigation shows that the Living Word of Jesus Christ international church in Dixville, outside Monrovia, where several young people with mental illness are taken for healing, keep patients in inhumane conditions, including shackling them for the duration of their stay. healing. Patients are further forced to go 12 hours a day without food or water, while being forced to inhale frankincense twice a day to help stabilize their brains.

He also revealed that the room in which patients are kept overnight does not meet standards to prevent patients from being bitten by insects, including mosquitoes, and that there are no facilities either. appropriate bedding and bedding to accommodate patients. Patients spend their nights on benches and outdoors in unhealthy patterns for them.

A patient of the International Church Living Word of Jesus Christ; photo by Zeze Ballah

Patients are also transferred to the church women’s vocational training center during the normal Sunday worship service.

A patient who was on the verge of recovery told Bush Chicken that he had burned his nose several times while inhaling incense. One of them was also unable to walk because his legs were swollen from the weight of the chain traced on his legs to restrict his movement.

The general overseer of the Church, Reverend Amos Sackie validated the findings of The Bush Chicken’s investigation. He said patients are shackled to prevent them from escaping to the streets at night, as the church grounds are unfenced.
“If there was a fence around the church, there would be no need to chain my patients”,? he explained. He said the church receives at least two patients a week and admitted 15 patients in September alone. Patients are admitted for a maximum of two months.

Without any psychotropic medication, the spiritual healer stated that he provided the patients with anointing oil and concentrated water mixed with frankincense to drink, while he continually prayed for their healing. He said that curing the mentally ill is his passion.

“I get confused every time I see mentally ill people on the streets, especially those car chargers”,? he said.

Reverend Amos Sackie, General Overseer of the Living Word of Jesus Christ International Church; photo by Zeze Ballah

He said that even if he wants to help, the lack of support from government and philanthropic organizations cannot allow him to admit more patients. He said he runs the healing program with little support from the families of the patients.

The Carter Center’s National Mental Health Program Representative Dr Janice Cooper frowned at the treatment given to mentally ill patients at church, describing it as unethical.

Angie Tarr Nyakoon, head of the mental health unit, also condemned this inappropriate treatment of patients by the church’s healing program. She said her department has worked with churches providing care and care for people with mental illness, to provide counseling to avoid such abuse.

The Carter Center’s mental health program training director Alexander Blackie said half of all mental illnesses in young people start at age 14, according to the World Health Organization, most of the time are not neither detected nor treated.

According to Blackie, a WHO report finds that 20 percent of adolescents can have mental health problems at any point in their life, while 50 percent of mental problems are established by age 14 and 75 percent at 24 years old.

He said most young people are affected by mental illness due to the harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs. He also described Liberia as a breeding ground for mental illness among young people due to years of civil war.

Meanwhile, the president of the 54th national legislature, Bhofal Chambers, has warned patients of the ES Grant Medical Health Clinic against the use of harmful substances because they have a role to play in society. Chambers assured the government would support them in wealthy ventures that would benefit society.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

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