Mental health in Cameroon

Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders are common in all regions of the world, affecting every community and age group across all income countries. While 14% of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, most of the people affected – 75% in many low-income countries- do not have access to the treatment they need, according to the World Health Organisation.

Unfortunately, Cameroon is no exception and has few government run mental health facilities to care for psychiatric patients (Hôpital Jamot Yaoundé and Laquintinie in Douala), where the few psychiatrists are working.

In nearly all the regions; the mental health units in the Regional Hospitals are not functional due to a lack of specialised staff. Some mental health personnel is working, however not organised in a structure. Traditional practitioners, pastors and priests are trying to fill the gap and are treating mental health patients; often to no avail.

The lack of sufficient mental health facilities in Cameroon in general and the North West Region more specific justifies a setup like Babungo Integrated Mental Health Care (BIMEHC). It is a reality that Cameroon’s population values/frequents visits to traditional healers.

The integrated combination of traditional and modern mental health and basic health care in BIMEHC fills the gap that is tangible in Cameroonian communities and is in accordance with the culture.

WHO states that integrated care helps to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help from stand-alone mental health services. An integrated service encourages the early identification and treatment of such disorders and thus reduces disability. Among other possible benefits are the provisions of care in the community and opportunities for community involvement in care.

Mental health in Babungo

BIMEHC is providing integrated mental health care. The provision of herbal and modern medication combined with a variety of activities makes BIMEHC a unique centre in Cameroon.

The quality of care is supervised by Dr. Kamga - psychiatrist Centre Jamot, Yaounde- who visits BIMEHC frequently to follow up patients and build the capacity of the staff.

Since 2003 expatriate - volunteer - professionals have stayed in BIMEHC to share their knowledge and skills in different domains.

BIMEHC’s activities focus on a combination of local and external resources to enable underprivileged people to improve their own conditions of life. Gender is mainstreamed in all its endeavours and the dedicated staff is carrying out the following activities:

  1. Bullet Providing mental health care (clinic and community based)

  1. Bullet Counseling, psychotherapy and conflict resolution

  1. Bullet Occupational therapy and sports

  1. Bullet Rehabilitation and reinsertion of psychiatric patients into their communities

  1. Bullet Referral system and contra referral

  1. Bullet Capacity building of the staff

  1. Bullet Workshops, sensitisation  and education on human rights and advocacy, HIV&AIDS, mental and basic health, nutrition, traditional practices, hygiene etc.

  1. Bullet Support programmes for People Living With HIV&AIDS (PLWHA)

  1. Bullet Vocational training pool (crafts, tailoring, agriculture, piggery, poultry etc)

  1. Bullet Coordination of income generating activities for the underprivileged people

  1. Bullet Promotion of food security and sustainable agriculture through seed centre, processing and demonstration units (piggery, poultry and gardening)

  1. Bullet Enhancing the protection of the medicinal garden and the natural resources

BIMEHC’s mental health facilities

BIMEHC is situated slightly up the hill having a spacious and clean setup to admit people suffering from mental problems.

  1. Bullet    consultation room both in and outpatients

  2. Bullet    duty room

  3. Bullet    6 store rooms (food and stock)

  4. Bullet    25 rooms for psychiatric patients with 2 beds per room (one for the patient and the other one for the carer

  5. Bullet    8 private rooms with indoor bathrooms and 2 beds per room (one for the patient and the other one for the care)

  6. Bullet    2 separation rooms (rarely used, only in extreme cases)

  7. Bullet    psychotherapy hall (individual, couple and family therapy)

  8. Bullet    multipurpose hall for sensitisation, health education, workshops, leisure activities

  9. Bullet    herbal pharmacy (drying, preparation and store rooms)

  10. Bullet    field for sports

  11. Bullet    library

  12. Bullet    cashier room

  13. Bullet    nurses office with computer, printer and internet

Primary health care and other facilities are also available.


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