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Cases of Mental Illness on the Rise in Cameroon
Doctors attribute rates to increased consumption of narcotics and stress
Yemti Harry Ndienla (mcyemtih)     Print Article 
Published 2008-02-06 17:42 (KST)   
This article is only lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
The Cameroon Association of Mental Health has pinpointed drug abuse, poor management of stress, inter alia, as some of the most recurring reasons for soaring lunacy in the country.

Jean Louis Jon, psychiatrist at the Douala Laquintinie Hospital and VP of the association, said drug abuse among Cameroonian youth had become so dangerously rampant. He blamed galloping marijuana consumption, the sniffing of glue, amidst escalating availability of other narcotics for the rising numbers of mentally ill people across the country.

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The medic spoke on the sidelines of the association's ordinary general assembly which took place in Douala recently. Little wonder why in curse of the assembly members renewed their engagement to continuously seek ways of promoting mental hygiene, as well as advocating on behalf of victims.

Created in 2003, the Cameroon Association of Mental Health has organized regular public sensitization workshops to school families counting mentally ill persons among their fold and the general public. It has even organized frequent field descents at which members distribute clothing and medical items to mentally unstable persons in the streets of Douala.

However, it appears such strides, laudable as they may seem, have been insufficient. Costs of medication for people at the early stages of mental illness remain unaffordable for most families affected by the problem. Centres providing catering for the mentally ill are deficient in financial and material endowment. And with fast eroding African family bonds, it is frequent to hear that a mentally ill kin has been kicked out of the family home.

In more extreme cases, and according to evidence furnished by some of the association members, some victim families have been known to bring their mentally ill kin and "dump" them in or around Douala. And so every year, the city welcomes new arrivals of mentally ill people.

In fact, many have contested statistics from the association which indicate that Douala counts only some 300 mentally ill men and women combing its streets from dawn to dusk. "That is not correct because if you go to a neighbourhood like Terminus right now, you will not count less than 20 of them. They are permanently there... Then go to Marche Central and Akwa, you will end with more than a thousand..." Pa Ndumbe, a Douala native, argued.

However the Cameroon Association of Mental Health, which comprises victim family members, relatively stabilized mentally ill patients, psychologists, and medics from various other fields, plans to double its efforts.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Yemti Harry Ndienla

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