As The Gambia joined the rest of the world to commemorate the World Mental Health Day, stakeholders in the health sector have called for more and concerted efforts towards improving mental health services in the country.
The commemoration was held on Monday at the Tanka-Tanka Psychiatric Hospital in Salagi, where health personnel, students and volunteers amongst othes gathered to reflect on mental health issues.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is, “Psychological First Aid”.
The day is set aside to raise awareness on mental health issues across the globe, as well as to mobilise efforts in support of mental health services. It was first celebrated throughout the world in 1991.
Speaking at the commemoration, Momodou Gassama of World Health Organisation (WHO) said mental health is one of the most isolated fields as far as giving support to the wellbeing of the people is concerned.
Gassama cited the WHO statistics, which revealed that mental health contributes to 14% of the global burden of diseases. “Nearly 400 million people around the world have some form of psychological or mental disorders, and the number is growing”.
He said the World Health Organisation is using this year’s celebration to launch a one-year campaign dedicated to depression which is another aspect of mental health sickness.
“The world is facing a human catastrophe as far as depression is concerned. WHO estimates that over 300, 000, 000 people around the world are suffering from depression. The World Health Organisation is taking this opportunity to launch this campaign on how to help people with such condition”, he stated.
The National Programme Manager for Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Pa Bakary Sonko, while presenting a short lecture on mental health services, stressed that mentally ill people need psychological support.
Hon. Babou Gaye-Sonko, APRC Youth Mobiliser and Nominated Member, affirmed that the day is set aside to show solidarity with the mental health patients, noting that patients and youth with mental health problems are still part of the society.
He noted that Tanka-Tanka Psychiatric Hospital is a general hospital for everybody, while calling for maximum support to mental health service in the country.
The APRC Youth Mobilier pointed out that the Government alone cannot do it all, thus the need for more support by all.
Babou Cham, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Mental Health Advocacy, said mental health problems are extremely important issues worldwide due to their impact on human rights and quality of life of those affected and their families and the impact it has on the health of the general population.
Other speakers included: Sanjally Trawally, Deputy Director of Health Promotion and Education; Omar Bojang, Patron at Tanka-Tanka Hospital and London Draid, a stakeholder, who all called for more support to the development of mental health.
by Arfang MS Camara