Cameroon clears the streets of abandoned mental health patients.
Authorities in Cameroon are clearing the streets of the capital, Yaounde, of more than 300 psychiatric patients who have been abandoned by family members, according to officials. Boko Haram terrorism, a separatist crisis in its English-speaking western regions, and an increase in hard drug consumption, according to the central African state, are all contributing to the rising number of such patients.
According to the health ministry, the number of abandoned psychiatric patients in Yaounde increased from 50 to more than 300 in two years. At least 2,700 patients are on the streets of Cameroon, with over 400 in the commercial capital city of Douala. In 2019, Cameroon had 1,300 such patients on its territory.
Frankline Ngwen is the supervisor of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services’ mental health department. He claims that abuse and trauma from Cameroon’s various crises have resulted in an increase in the number of psychiatric patients.
“There are several reasons why the number of people developing mental illnesses is increasing,” Ngwen explained. “Some of them are particularly serious, such as the sociopolitical crisis in the northwest region, the southwest region, and the Boko Haram crisis in the north. This has opened the door to a slew of abuses, violence, and trauma, and these traumas can lead to the development of mental illnesses. We also have schools where teenagers use a variety of drugs, all of which contribute to the development of mental illnesses.”
Many Cameroonians believe that mental health crises are divine retribution for wrongdoing. Some believe that mental illness is caused by witchcraft or spiritual possession.
In the English-speaking northwestern town of Bamenda, Fonbe Hedwick runs Living Vine Mental Health Center. He is a supporter of the campaign to remove mentally ill people from the streets. Fonbe claims that some patients are fleeing the homes of African traditional healers and Pentecostal pastors who abuse them while claiming to be chasing evil spirits.
Authorities in Cameroon are clearing the streets of the capital, Yaoundé, of more than 300 psychiatric patients who have been abandoned by family members, according to officials.