By Janjay F. Campbell
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, said being able to access health services is essential for all young people.
Speaking yesterday at the program on International Youth Day at the UNFPA head office in Mamba Point, with the theme “Mental Health Matter”, Dr. Osotimehin stressed that young people living with mental health disabilities are prevented from getting the care and treatment they require.
“Those admitted to psychiatric institutions often face degrading treatment and inhumane living conditions. All young people but particularly those with mental disabilities are excluded from community life and denied the opportunity to participate in decision making that affects their lives,” he said.
According to him, many young people with mental disabilities are denied the right to vote, marry and have children thereby affecting their ability to gain access to appropriate care, integration into society and recover from their illnesses.
He further said that the UNFPA is working in more than 150 countries and territories around the world to ensure that adolescents and youths have the knowledge, skills and services to enable them to exercise their rights, understand their bodies and make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing.
Dr. Osotimehin said 50 percent of young people in Liberia are going astray due to drug abuse which is a major factor in the lives of young people, and that if this continues Liberia will not progress since the youths of Liberia are the future leaders.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker of Manor River Union Youth Parliament, Ambassador Robert K. Gboluma, said in the fight to contain the deadly Ebola virus; youth groups within the country should discuss issues affecting the youths.
He mentioned drug abuse as one of the factors that is affecting the lives of so many youths in Liberia and polluting the environment.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ms. Manakiziel S. Sicarr, said 75% of Liberia’s population is youths. There area lots of young wayward people in the streets involved in miscellaneous criminal activities that are injurious to them.
She said many of these young people with mental illnesses are hardly paid attention to. According to her, the Ministry of Youth and Sports is willing to work along with young people.
Giving his testimony, Thomas Wallace said he smoked for eight years and got nothing good from it. He told his fellow youths at the program that he was abandoned by his family and friends and when he decided to leave drugs it was difficult for him.
He narrated that he got help from a nurse at a local hospital where he stayed for a month. It has been one year since he quit smoking. Mr. Wallace is calling on youths on the streets to desist from drugs and think on positive things to make their lives better.