By Modou Kanteh
Lawyer Rachel Mendy, a season legal practitioner in The Gambia has praised the new Gambia draft constitution for considering people with mental health challenges in the country. She said the draft constitution has taken into consideration of people with mental health challenges.
Counsel Mendy made this remark on a day-long dissemination workshop organized by Mental Health Leadership Advocacy Program (MHLAP) on Friday 6 December 2019 at the National Aid Secretariat conference hall along Kairaba Avenue. She pointed out that even though there are still some areas of mental health that are not in the draft but the fact that there are elements of mental health here and there in the draft, as advocate for mental health welfare she is happy.
Counsel Mendy said she is also impressed to hear that individuals and groups are going to Tanka Tanka Psychiatric hospital to share with patients. The counsel also called for the training of all prison officers on mental health related issues. She said the training of mental health should be given a wider picture in society.
Momodou Gassama a representative of World Health Organisation (WHO) said mental health is an area that has been neglected all over the world. He said the amount of money being allocated to mental health is always very small even in develop countries. Gassama said a cabinet’s paper has been drafted for the mental health bill, and he is looking forward to see if something positive will come out of it.
In his welcoming remark, the chairman of MHLAP Peter John Gomez said the dissemination workshop was aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues and disseminating the achievement facilitated by MHLAP. He noted that mental health and illness are important issues worldwide due to their impact on the rights and quality of life of those who are affected.
The chairman pointed out that in 2012, when MHLAP was established in the country, there was only one mental health organization in the Gambia. He said there were few specialists on mental health issues.
“Our individual and family attitude towards the mentally ill is by no means the best,” he contuse, “They are part of us because it can happen to you or me,” Gomez said.
The MHLAP chairman said people with mental health challenges should be loved, sheltered, clothed and above all treated as human being with dignity.
The dissemination workshop was graced by stakeholders from various institutions in the country.