Liberia to be Represented at International Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Conference

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Three Liberian representatives are expected to participate in an International Conference on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Crisis Situations to be held in the Netherlands, on October 7 and 8, 2019.

This conference, according to a press release issued, will take place at the KIT Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam as part of a series of summits on global mental health that the U.K. initiated in 2018. The event also aims to mobilize commitment from countries and organizations to scaling up sustainable and high-quality mental health psychosocial support during and after disasters and conflicts.

The event is being organized by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag.

Other expected outcomes include increasing the level of commitment by countries and donors to long-term financial support for the situation in crises, identify financing mechanisms, and presenting proven, scalable and evidence-based approaches, as well as interventions and ways to integrate them into humanitarian aid programs.

Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah will officially represent Liberia, while the head of the Carter Center Mental Health Program in Liberia, Benedict Dossen, and the program’s consultant, Janice Cooper, will also represent their organization.

Other international guests at the conference would also include the Argentine-Dutch royal, Queen Máxima.

Argentine-Dutch royal Queen Máxima. Photo courtesy of the Dutch Government

Máxima will speak with representatives of nongovernmental organizations and care workers about the importance of mental health and psychosocial care in crisis situations and areas.

She has served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development as a leading global voice in advancing universal access to affordable, effective, and safe financial services, since 2009.

Other guests, such as experts, policymakers, politicians and people with lived experience will also speak at the conference about the psychological impact of conflict, violence and natural disasters.

“The experts, policymakers and politicians believe that mental wellbeing is a precondition for rebuilding societies after disasters,” the release said.

“At least one in five people who have experienced conflict or disaster go on to develop a psychiatric disorder.”

Globally, there is a chronic shortage of care workers and specialists in the field of mental health.

A mental health advocacy group recently petitioned the Liberian legislature to ensure that the National Mental Health Policy is prioritized within the 2019-2020 budget to safeguard its implementation.

The group claims that since the Mental Health Law was passed by the legislature in 2017 which calls for the protection and promotion of the fundamental human rights of all persons with mental illness in the country, implementation and enforcement have been lagging.

Featured photo by Laura Leidner/U.S. CDC

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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