People of West African countries are said to be overwhelmed for the initiative been made by a member of the Liberian Legislature, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and partners to establish the first in history a mental health center in Liberia,
Some international radio stations including the BBC have highlighted this initiative by the Liberian lawmaker, especially to establish a multipurpose newly renovated Center for Rehabilitation and Integration (CRI) which he financed to provide mental health counseling, rehabilitation, and technical vocational skills training for mental health patients and disadvantaged youth to become productive citizens.
The colorful dedication of this milestone project took place on September 30, 2021 at the rehabilitation facility in Cooper Farm Community, Paynesville, Montserrado County, brought together several current and past government officials.
Among those who graced the program were Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, former Vice President and Unity Party standard-bearer Joseph Nyumah Boakia and Liberty Party political leader and Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence.
Others attending the program were All Liberian Party political leader Benoni W. Urey, Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean and Youth and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson and several other members of the 54th Legislature.
Giving an overview of the project, Senator Dillon who also chairs the Board of Directors of the Center for Rehabilitation and Integration, said the project is in fulfillment of his dream to cater to mental health patients across the country.
“All my dream as a Senator is to rehabilitate a single Liberian citizen instead of constructing a school building in my name that children and [the] community will have to pay fees to me before they can attend,” he said.
“However, the three thousand United States dollars that I cut from my salary monthly to make some intervention in the county through the Montserrado County Development Council will be directed toward this health project,” Dillon explained.
According to him, Liberia made a great mistake after the war by focusing on disarming citizens and refused to focus its attention on the rehabilitation of youths across the country.
He disclosed that when former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf took office in 2006, the disadvantaged youth and mentally ill patients across the country were approximately between 15,000 to 20,000, and the government didn’t focus its attention on rehabilitation.
Mr. Dillon narrated that it’s so unfortunate that one government after another will continue to show little or no interest in rehabilitating youth across the country or even constructing rehabilitation homes or centers across the country.
The vocal Montserrado County Senator continued that after the war, the government’s focus was on the silence of guns and establishing political power, adding that the issues of rehabilitation are a serious national concern.
Mr. Dillon indicated that people who lost their families and loved ones in their presence and other people who were affected by the war are going through trauma and need to be rehabilitated.
But he said since the government failed to do so, the number of disadvantaged youth and mental health patients has increased here.
He said that patients that will be at the facility will be treated freely and be given clothing and food free at the expense of him and his partners.
He noted that the center has professional and trained mental health doctors.
“Anything we are not able at this facility, we will inform that person and direct them to another health facility that is able [to do] their work. However, I have nothing to do with this facility and I will not be in front of anything. This project and facility will be run by all those professional rehabilitation doctors you are seeing here today,” said Mr. Dillon.
Making a remark, the Director for Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the Ministry of Health, Madam Angie Tarr pledged the commitment and willingness of the ministry are working with Senator Dillon to cater to mental health patients, adding that they have professionally trained doctors to provide assistance.
In separate remarks, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and the political leaders of Liberty Party Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and All Liberian Party Benoni W. Urey called for inclusiveness in fighting drugs and substance abuse across the country.
They urged the Government of Liberia to strengthen the drug law in the country by making it non-billable and provide increased budgetary allotment to the Liberian Drugs Enforcement Agency to make it more effective in combating drugs across the country.
For their party, the Minister of Youth and Sports D. Zeogar Wilson and the Minister of Justice Frank Musa Dean, thanked Senator Dillon for the initiative, adding that the Government of Liberia is working in the said direction to mitigate the issues of drug, substance abuse, mental health counseling, and facilities across the country.
They added that the government of Liberia believes that by doing so, the crime rate across the country will be mitigated, and when people are rehabilitated, they can come back to society and make a positive impact in the country.
The friends of Dillon Global and MADDAS, speaking via WhatsApp from the United States of America, said they will continue to provide support to the program, adding that mental health issues are a serious matter that should claim the attention of everyone.