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AfricaLive Friday, 29 November, 2002, 13:00 GMT
Mental health in Africa
WHO head Dr Gro Harlem Bruntland visits Nairobi
The WHO takes a keen interest in Africans' mental health
Africa Live has been examining the issue of mental health across the continent.

And we wanted to know YOUR views.


Have your say
Call 44 207 836 0215
Email africa.live@bbc.co.uk

Read some of your emails below:

Angel Ogey Akonu from Anambra State, Nigeria:

I know a man who had mental illness who was rejected by his family when he took ill.

He was always roaming the streets sing a song that goes like this "wash me, wash away the sins in my heart. there is a lot of hatred in this world among us yet we are one in the sight of God."

I think people like him who have been rejected by their families but are no danger to society need help from the government to ensure their recovery.

From Kehleboe Gongloe, a Liberian living in the USA:

I work in the School District of Philadelphia implementing a set of interventions in the classroom for kids diagnosed with attention disorders and hyperactivity.

However, in recent years, some of these kids have been taken to Kenya and the story is that they improved without any medication and having access to one-on-one therapy .

Clearly the environment plays a role in mental health.

T.M. Oks from Denmark:

I have trouble understanding myself because I live for the moment. After the moment has passed, I unknowingly ignore its content & anticipate the content of the moment to come.

By so doing, I tend to miss out on a lot of issues of great importance.

My girlfriend & I usually argue about the fact that she can't understand me & that I'm not helping her understand me.

How can I help her understand me if I don't understand myself either? How can I learn to understand myself?

Isa in Japan:

I am African living in Asia. My friend who lives in Africa has some kind of mental problem since the past three years.

Some of the signs are distrust even of his own wife and family, losing weight, claiming to see images which don't exist, and he also couldn`t stay in a place where small children play.

Despite all these problems, he graduated in High Distinction from University. It is a paradox for me to understand his situation.

J. Jiumaleh a Somali in the USA:

Several members of our extended family seem to be suffering from mental illness resulting from the years of chaos in Somalia.

When we hear that some family member has "flipped out" - losing touch with reality and unable to care for himself - we don't know what the family should do.

You have to keep in mind that these individuals are still in Somalia where life is dangerous and uncertain and they have very few resources.

Helene Passtoorsa South African , living in Belgium:

When I was a political prisoner during apartheid in South Africa, for eight months they kept me on 24 hour surveillance by video camera; then, to step up the pressure, they installed a microphone and reacted to whatever they heard on it.

Things got very bad and I landed in psychiatric hospital.

I would like to know more about the psychological effect of feeling constantly under surveillance.

Perhaps I should add the cell was also sound-proofed and there was no daylight.

I am currently living in Belgium but about to return to SA for the first time and feeling nervous about facing those memories.

Lesana Caulker-Burnett in the USA:

I am very concerned about mental health in Sierra Leone, since most, if not all, at home and abroad have suffered the trauma of the war which raged for 10 years.

On a visit home, I could not help but notice that I was met with vacant looks from those I spoke to.

There is the tendency to deny that it has anything to do with the traumatic events.

I would like to know more about the symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress which one would look for and also about traditional African treatments which may be helpful.


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