Dr. Alie Wurie, encouraged health stakeholders to pay special attention to mental health depression in Sierra Leone, as the ailment usually affects at least 240,000 people in the country every year.
He said the stigma and lack of accurate information on mental health issues had resulted in critical impediments to treatment and recovery.
Dr. Wurie established that the theme for this year’s World Health Day celebration was “Depression; let’s talk”.
He further explained that the WHO had stated that depression was one of the leading causes of ill health and disability in the world. He furthered that over 320 million people suffered from depression globally each year, while adding that depression had led to the act of suicide which tragically claimed the lives of 800,000 people every year.
Owing to that he called on all Sierra Leoneans to be e supportive to mental health victims as well as discouraging the stigma amongst affected persons. He ascertained that all of us at some point in time might have been affected by depression either directly or indirectly but we hardly discussed them.
“We need to change this! We must encourage those struggling with mental illness to come forward for help, and offer our support”. He added.
Representative from the Mental Health Services Users Group in Sierra Leone; Paul Kaikai uttered that there was hope after depression just as there was life after Ebola. He said that care and support from families and communities, backed up with effective and respectful treatment from health workers could bring dignity, healing and ultimate recovery to those battling with mental illness. He therefore called on all to stop stigmatizing against mentally depressed people in communities.
Speaking on behalf of the Health Education Division at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the Program Manager Mr. Lansana Conteh stated that mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and therefore encouraged communities to be greatly involved in tackling misinformation and building trust and solidarity for victims of mental health. This according to him will help victims to know what to do and where to run to, as well as being confident to explain their problems to seek adequate medical attention.
Lansana furthered that this year’s World Health Day would be celebrated with different activities in all 14 districts of the country. He said that essay and painting competition via school health clubs, radio discussions, community forums and a national event and a parade starting at exactly 8:00am, would all form parts of this year’s celebration.
The Mental Health Officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) Sierra Leone chapter, Dr. Florence Baingana established that one could not be healthy without mental health. She said that depression was now the top cause of ill health globally and that it had brought untold distress to those it had affected. She furthered that the prevalence of that condition was a wakeup call which informed that the world needed to talk more and act more on mental health issues, as well as ensuring that people with mental depression got the needed support they deserved. She said that depression was a common mental disorder which was clinically defined by the feelings of persistent and sometimes by extreme sadness that last for more than 14 days.
The WHO representative furthered that some of the signs and symptoms of mental health were; a loss of interest in activities that were normally enjoyed by you, a reduced ability to carry out daily activities, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or lack of appetite, tiredness, and poor concentration. She continued by informing all that depression could undermined someone’s ability to function well at school, work place and even at home. “It can cause immense suffering and at its worst, can result to self-harm or suicide”. She added.
Dr. Florence ended by calling on all to join them in this year’s World Health Day celebration which would commence on Friday, 7 April, 2017.