Since 1992, Sierra Leone has joined other countries to commemorate World Mental Health Day (WHMD), which seeks to address depression and anxiety disorders that have an impact on one’s ability to work productively.
Dr. Abdul Jalloh, Medical Superintendent of Kissy Psychiatric Hospital and Specialist Psychiatrist has said that since unemployment is one of the risk factors for someone to have a mental disorder, sensitisation especially in the workplace is very important for people to know its effect.
“’Mental health in the workplace’ is the theme for this year’s WMHD 2017, this day is being celebrated with the objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health.” He added, “As depression is a leading cause for disability, if someone has depression that person’s productivity will be less in society,” said Dr. Jalloh. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression and 260 million suffer from anxiety disorder.
A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion USD each year in lost productivity.
Dr. Jalloh said that there has been no study undertaken in Sierra Leone on mental health in the work place. “There is so much stigma associated with mental health, many people don’t come forward except when the situation becomes worse.” He went on to say that when people become very aggressive that’s the time they will seek medical attention. Depression and anxiety are very common but people are not aware that they have it.
Creating awareness is crucial in giving support to mentally ill patients. People need to know what mental health is and the need to seek early treatment, which will help greatly.
Certifying a mental health patient, he said, can only be done by a trained and qualified psychiatrist. “Not everyone has the legal right to tell someone that they have mental health problem.”
Treatment is available but there are challenges in terms of medication. “That part of the health sector has been neglected. The challenge is not here alone as the drugs are very expensive, with the right medication that person can be treated and get better.” He advised that a mental disorder is just like any other illness, and there is no need to discriminate or stigmatise against that person as they needed support at that stage of their illness. “That person needs support from everyone and not only close family members. In fact one should be observant of each other’s behaviour. If you one day see someone close to you sitting down quietly and doesn’t have your time and loses interest in what you used to do, talk to that person into seeking help if the need be,” said Dr. Jalloh.
Research states that many risk factors are responsible for mental health that may be present in the working environment. A person may have the skills to complete tasks, but they may have too few resources to do what is required, or there may be unsupportive managerial or organizational practices. ZJ/9/10/17
By Zainab Joaque
Wednesday October 11, 2017.