By Antoinette Sendolo
In an effort to adequately address mental health issues in Liberia, the Carter Center Mental Health Training Program, aimed at stimulating the country’s health system after the fourteen years of civil unrest has graduated additional 23 mental health clinicians marking the sixth class of trained clinicians who will help to improve the access to much needed mental health services in Liberia.
The Carter Center Mental Health Training program ran for six months to provide adequate and quality information and education to clinicians on various ways of dealing with people living with mental illness or epilepsy because they (mentally ill people) have always been stigmatized and discriminated in the Liberian society.
These graduates have joined 100 previously trained and credentialed local mental health clinicians practicing in all 15 counties in Liberia, working largely in primary care clinics and hospitals.
There are medical treatments and psychosocial supports provided for people living with mental illness for which the mental health clinicians are trained.
For his part, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, stressed the need for more mental health clinicians to be trained as part of the Carter Center Mental Health program in order to foster and sustain the advocacy against discriminations, stigmatizations and to provide adequate health care for people living with mental illness in the country. The Health minister congratulated the newly trained mental health clinicians for putting in their time and encouraged them to practice what they have learnt in accordance with their professional ethics by keeping to the oath they have taken to serve mentally ill people without any form of discriminations or stigmatizations. The minister spoke when he attended the Carter Center’s sixth graduation ceremony of mentally ill clinicians held at the Phebe Hospital in Suakoko, Bong County.
At the same time, a message coming from the former first lady of the United States of America, Mrs Rosalyn Carter which was read by Ms. Consuelo Campbell of Atlanta encouraged Liberians to work to improve the livelihood of people living with mental illness and be role models for other countries where the mental health program is on course. According to the message read, Liberia is rated one country which has worked in taking mental health issues to another level through the Carter Center Mental Health program which is providing training for clinicians and also providing awareness in order to do away with discriminations and stigmatizations of mentally ill people in Liberia.