According to the WHO there are around 39 diseases that can be categorized as mental health disorders. The mental health condition is even worse in unstable or poor countries, like Sierra Leone and Liberia, where there have been civil conflicts and natural disasters. It is also worst in Sierra Leone is the only private psychiatric hospital. There were 1.35 million people that visited a private mental health hospital in Sierra Leone in the year 2021 alone, of which 75% were men.
The second most common mental health disease in Sierra Leone is malaria. In fact, malaria has been declared a public health risk for all citizens of Sierra Leone and all persons traveling to or within Sierra Leone. Unfortunately this has been made possible by the lack of effective education on the prevention and treatment of malaria. In fact, according to the WHO there has not been a recorded case of a case of malaria ever occurring in Sierra Leone.
A mental health disease that is common in Sierra Leone and in the other parts of West Africa is schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is characterized by hallucinations, biphasic behaviors, and severe depression. It is believed that schizoaffective disorder is caused by the interaction between a variety of genes, environment, and hormones. It is common in men more than women and appears to run in families.
Another common mental illness that is seen in Sierra Leone and other parts of West Africa is schizophrenia. It is estimated that approximately one in every three people in Sierra Leone suffer from schizophrenia. It is a mental illness that can begin with brief episodes of psychosis-which may not have any apparent cause-and gradually develop over time. In some cases, the illness is so severe that it can result in suicide. It is believed that the prevalence of untreated schizoaffective disorder in Sierra Leone is largely due to the lack of treatment infrastructure available for the disease.
The third most common mental health ailment is bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by major swings in the mood of the person affected. It usually begins at around the age of puberty and can last for about ten years. The condition is more prevalent in females than in men and is said to affect about ten percent of the Sierra Leonean population. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder requires the assistance of a psychiatrist and is only recommended when the patient is sleeping or when he is unresponsive to medication.
The fourth most common mental health ailment in Sierra Leone is anemia. A shortage of iron causes anemia and is often characterized by the paleness of the skin and by fatigue. Anemia is more common in rural regions of the country and affects the mentally ill more commonly. The symptoms of anemia include pale skin, low energy levels, fatigue, and poor growth. Iron tablets can be taken by patients who are affected with this disease and doctors recommend anemia tests are conducted frequently to monitor the situation.
The fifth most common mental health ailment is anorexia nervosa. The name itself is deceptive as anorexia is actually a behavioral problem not a medical condition. A person suffering from anorexia nervosa will usually exhibit an excessive desire for food and thus restricting their daily activities to only a few select foods. Anorexia can result in a variety of other problems including emotional and physical scars, self-harm, and even death. Because of the danger that anorexia represents, medical screening for anorexia should be carried out by any psychiatrist working in a psychiatric facility.
The sixth most common mental health disorders are depression. This disorder is afflicting more women than men and often has its onset during the teenage years. Depression can have many causes but in general it is believed to be caused by a disruption in the life of the sufferer, which then leads to feelings of worthlessness and despair. This disorder is the most common cause of disability and death among elderly people. Anyone suffering from depression should seek treatment immediately.