Mental Health disorders: sufferers on the rise in Bamenda's streets

By Afanwi Jolenta and Bakah Derick 

Bamenda, the Regional capital of the North West of Cameroon is currently experiencing an increase in the number of persons living with mental health issues. It is believed that at the at the dawn of every  day, there is a new person on the streets of the restive city with visible signs of mental health challenges. Many of them are young. 
Experts and city dwellers are  attributed this to a rise in drug consumption amongst the youth. Others are of the opinion that some of the sufferers are into cultism in search of wealth.

Odette an inhabitant of bamenda says "Many youths today engage  in cults in the name of scamming and have to meet certain unlawful conditions as a result  of unnecessary competition, peer pressure and greed. The youths in an attempt to compete  with their friends end up in sects which is not a good idea as so many of them now move through the streets as mentally unhealthy people when they cannot meet up with the demands of the cults." Odette a Bamenda inhabitant tells 
Commercial Avenue,  one of the main streets in Bamenda is host to a good number of people suffering from mental disorders.   Others can be spotted at  cow Street, Ghana Street and mobile Nkwen areas just to name a few.

They spend their time  around piles of refuse within the city from.where they feed wearing torn clothes with extreme cases moving naked. They are often seen carrying along bags whose content cannot be determined. 

Mental Health disorders manifest in different forms.. 

"People who constantly isolate themselves are suffering from mental challenges. Other  people who are seen talking to themselves in lost full positions are suffering from mental disorder." A Francois Njiyap a psychiatric nurse at the bamenda Regional hospital  explains
Njiyap advices young people to avoid  drug consumption, alcohol and activities that can affect their mental health.

In Bamenda, very little medical care is available for them. A faith based institution in Nkwen Bamenda known as the Emaus Center has been taking care of those with mental illnesses for many years. No one could comment on the situation of the institution at the time of this report. Though still to be confirmed, sources talk of another mental health clinic in Kumbo Bui Division. 

Families here easily give up on members with mental health issues as soon as it becomes severe forcing them to spend the rest of their lives on the streets. Reports talk of persons with mental health disorders who appear on the streets of Bamenda. Some are said  to have  been transferred by their families from other towns or cities. 

"I see mad people who have been transferred by their families from Bafoussam and Mbouda to Bamenda. Where do you think they come from? People here try to protect their family members who are mad by locking them at home and until they become too wild before they are allowed on the streets." Lifoter Alfred 

Mental health statistics from the world health Organisation highlights that approximately 13% of people across the world suffer from mental health a number said to double in the years ahead if the powers that be do not research on lasting solution to crisis  like the covid 19 pandemic, the Russian and Ukraine war, as well as other international conflicts within countries in the globe.


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