Sierra Leone: flaunting statistics could further marginalise mental health care provision
Recently I noted an article in the online ThinkAfricaPress which highlights the problem of inadequate mental health care provision in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
As is usual with mental illness and mental health care, the article started with the many problems bedeviling this aspect of population- level health care delivery.
Sierra Leone no less, has a unique story of its own- A war that lasted 10 years, leaving a significant percentage of its 6 million population severely traumatised and in need of scant available psychiatric/Psychological interventions.
'A country with one retired psychiatrist' is the way stories written about Sierra Leone and mental health care provision typically begin.
Whilst it is true that Sierra Leone's weak health system, Its serious lack of mental health workers, and stigma attached to mental illness compounds the problem, steps have been taken- as highlighted by the article- to address issues around education, advocacy, clinical intervention and proper signposting.
Alas, stories such as that of the Enabling Access to Mental Health in Sierra Leone tend to be less eye catching, and so is inserted further down the page, and in considerably less detail than stories detailing the stigma and erroneous beliefs sorrounding mental illness.
The problem with constantly sensationalising dismal statistics ahead of solutions, is that it could serve to further marginalise the problem, with the unintended consequence of worsening stigma.
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