Mental illness rampant in Liberia

In a country still only eight years removed from a devastating 14–year civil war, Liberia’s treatment of people with mental illnesses is seen by most as a low priority next to poverty, HIV and creation of a functioning democracy.

Liberian flag sticking into Liberia on a map of Liberia and surrounding countries
News from Liberia

But the nation’s “psychological scars,” are an imposing burden to the country’s development. According to a recent PBS feature, about 40 percent of the West African Nation’s four million people have post traumatic stress disorder.

The feature highlights the work of Dr. Janice Cooper, a native Liberian, who fled the country a decade ago and now works with the Atlanta-based Carter Center.

In 2010, the center, in a joint project with the Liberia Ministry’s of Health and Social Welfare, started a project to train 150 mental health workers to provide much-needed psychiatric assistance to people throughout the country, most of whom have never received any mental health treatment.

The project recently converted a building inside the Monrovia Central Prison into a mental health treatment center. Conditions are so rough at the prison that it has been singled out by Amnesty International for human rights abuse.

“A colleague of mine once told me, as I was ranting about my own story of having to flee, that everyone in Liberia has the same kind of story,” Cooper said in the report. “That realization and knowledge really fuels my desire to be here and work in this environment.”

PBS reporter Molly Raskin is working on a documentary on Liberia’s mental health program.

One response to “Mental illness rampant in Liberia

  1. And while we are at it taking care of other countrys’ needs…let’s take a look at the trauma that is being caused by and/or is increasing PTSD symptoms by our own governments actions against those living in low income and poverty due to mental illness!!

    My own PTSD is continually being triggered by decreases to assistance, or removal of assistance and by the proposed huge amount of dollars going to programs invented by government which will not and have not helped the economy in the past!!

    2011 has not been the year to turn 65 and have a Mental Health disability!! Medicare in only 80% of what they choose to cover. Full retirement age was changed to 66 at the last minute. An increase to $115.40 was made to the Part B premium, which they automatically take from the SS before a person gets a monthly figure; they call it “medicare savings plan” so it sounds like other than a monthly fee.

    Reapplying for the changes required by medicare that are different than Medicaid in both oxygen and Mental Health care makes a person go without that care for a period of time.

    And then it is not totally covered.

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