Abandoned by governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies––Africans with mental illnesses in regions in crisis are confined to the dark corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, or kept behind bars in filthy prisons.
Some suffered trauma which led to the illness, others were born with a mental disability. In countries where the infrastructure has collapsed and mental health professionals have fled, treatment is often the same––a life in chains.
For the first part of "Condemned," Robin Hammond's multi-country project on the mentally ill in Africa, Hammond traveled to East Africa to document the lives of mentally ill in war, in refugee camps, and locked away in facilities collapsing under the weight of corruption .
He now travels to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The brutal wars that plagued the region have been over for a decade, but the psychological scars remain. Half of Liberians suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Almost no one receives treatment. Stories of brutal mutilations made the world take notice of the war in Sierra Leone, but there is only one trained psychiatrist in the entire country.
The legacy of these conflicts is mental illness on a grand scale in two countries where the infrastructure needed for the care of the mentally disabled is destroyed, and the resources needed to treat trauma are virtually non-existent.
This chapter of "Condemned" documents the long-term mental health impacts of the conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone––illustrating that signing of peace agreements does not ensure an end to suffering.