By Omar Bah
Baba Manneh, a senior nursing officer at the Tanka Tanka psychiatric hospital has said that drug abuse cases account for the single largest admission at the center.
“The center admits new patients every two days and most of these patients are diagnosed with drug induced psychosis substances,” he told journalists recently at the hospital during a presentation of food items.
Manneh said the rise of drug related mental illnesses of late calls for urgent efforts toward drugs control, especially cannabis which is the cheapest substance and the most common in the country.
He went on to quote the latest monitoring report from the Tanka Tanka psychiatric hospital which indicates that from 2009 to 2011 alone, about 48% of all admissions are diagnosed with drug induced psychosis.
The majority of these patients are between 18 and 35 years old, whilst 72% of the clients admitted at the hospital are between 15 to 50 years of age.
The report estimates that the prevalence of mental health issues is almost 20% within the population, but there is a large gap between the numbers of people affected by a mental disorder and those receiving treatment.
In the light of this gloomy statistics, Manneh said there is also a need for drug related issues to be included in the country’s educational curriculum to raise awareness on the dangers of drugs.
Another angle in the report deals with the welfare of the staff of mental health facilities.
It observes that The Gambia is by far the country with the least salary paid to mental health staff in the sub region because salary of mental health staff ranges from $300 to $1000 in other countries in the sub region.
This is by far better than salaries in The Gambia and despite staff being attacked and injured while on duty, no case of compensation to staff was recorded for years the report concluded.