"CONDEMNED - Mental health in African countries in crisis"
Relatives of mentally ill men and women drop off family members to The City of Rest, a facility where an elderly Pastor claims to heal people with mental illness. Healing can take months. Chains are used to restrain some of the "guests." Some are violent and restraints are needed to protect people and property in the facility. Often though chaining is used more as a punishment than for safety. The war in Sierra Leone, known for the looting of diamonds and the amputating of limbs by rebels, hindered the country's progress. Health services were not severely impacted though as they hardly existed in the first place. After independence in 1961 corruption led to the wholesale looting of the country's resources including stocks of medicine. The skilled left and those who had the resources to be trained in medicine did so elsewhere, few returned. The continents first psychiatric hospital opened in the country's capital Freetown in 1823. Alas, the treatment of patients there has not changed much since then: modern medicine is rarely available, chains still immobilize patients, and staff have little knowledge of what mental health really is. Given that it is impossible to access for most and care is so poor, many Sierra Leoneans turn to religious and traditional healers to treat mental disability. Freetown, Sierra Leone. February 2013. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos