The Ministry of Health of Senegal and UNODC mark World Mental Health Day
This year, World Mental Health Day was celebrated across the world on October 10th, 2020. It comes at a time when billions of people around the globe have been affected by the COVID 19 pandemic which has had unmeasurable negative effects on mental health. This is why, WHO, together with its partner organizations has called for a major increase in investment geared towards mental health through its campaign: “Move for mental health: Let’s Invest”.
This year, UNODC supported this initiative through raising awareness on mental health issues and the need for greater investment during a workshop organized by the Ministry of Health on Saturday, October 10th in Dakar, Senegal. The 4-hour long conference was attended by local civil society and community-based organizations whose aim is to promote human rights in mental health and raise awareness.
The event was presided by the head of the non-communicable diseases division, Dr Babacar Gueye, along with Dr Jean Augustin Tine, Chief of the Mental health division of the Ministry of Health. Dr Babacar Gueye’s announcement that 10 new psychiatrists have been hired and will be dispatched to the different clinics in Senegal was met with loud cheers and applause by the audience. Indeed, many of the treatment facilities have been severely under staffed for years. “This we hope, is just a start”, declared Dr Gueye.
After opening remarks from the Director, the Chief of the division and the Coordinator of REPOSAMS (Reseau des Organisations Pour la Promotion de la Sante Mentale au Senegal), Mame Seyni Dieye (National Program Officer of the Drug Demand Reduction program at UNODC) highlighted the findings of the new WHO survey of 130 countries which detailed the devastating impact of COVID19 on access to mental health services and pointed to the urgent need for increase funding. A fundraiser specialist from Sanofi Senegal, an organisation that rely on expert to support the training of general practionners, specialist, nurses, pharmacy staff, etc., followed and presented the different strategies to fundraise for specific programs and activities.
The day ended with a touching video and tribute to the many people suffering from mental illness in Senegal and to those who offer their help pro bono. The hope is that days like these will help increase awareness of mental health issues, break down stigma and bring about policy changes necessary for adequate funding in order to address the mental health crisis in Senegal.