Original Research

Current state of the literature on mental health in Liberia: A systematic review

Kimberly Hook, Kanako Ando, Senait Ghebrehiwet, Benjamin Harris, Babawale Ojediran, Haniya Syeda, David Henderson, Christina Borba
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 26 | a1502 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v26i0.1502 | © Kimberly Hook, Kanako Ando, Senait Ghebrehiwet, Benjamin Harris, Babawale Ojediran, Haniya Syeda, David Henderson, Christina Borba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 January 2020 | Published: 26 October 2020

About the author(s)

Kimberly Hook, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States of America; and, Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States of America; and, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, United States of America
Kanako Ando, Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States of America
Senait Ghebrehiwet, Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States of America
Benjamin Harris, A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia
Babawale Ojediran, A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia
Haniya Syeda, Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States of America
David Henderson, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States of America; and, Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States of America, United States
Christina Borba, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States of America; and, Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States of America, United States


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Abstract

Background: The Republic of Liberia recently experienced several events that resulted in wide-ranging societal impacts, including long-term civil war and an outbreak of Ebola. These types of events are linked to higher prevalence of mental disorders and psychosocial distress. As a result, it is likely that there is an increased prevalence of mental health disorders in the population.

Aim: To assess and review the recent mental health literature in order to provide insight into existing mental health needs and effective or recommended interventions in post-conflict Liberia.

Setting: Articles included in this study enrolled Liberians living in Liberia.

Methods: A search of four databases was conducted for studies of any type that assessed mental health in Liberia between 01 January 2003 and 27 March 2019. After reviewing 363 articles, 21 articles were included in the final analysis. Articles were coded to identify common themes and needs.

Results: The majority of studies used qualitative designs and were conducted in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. Common topics included adolescent mental health, intervention and assessment and post-conflict impacts. One article focused on mental health impacts after recovery from Ebola.

Conclusion: Overall, there is a dearth of mental health literature that focuses on Liberia. This suggests ample opportunity for researchers to investigate mental health needs amongst the Liberian population and effective psychiatric interventions. Existing recommendations often focus on addressing adolescent health needs, including substance use practices. Opportunities for future research particularly related to needs of adult populations and to mental health impacts of Ebola, abound.


Keywords

Ebola; mental health disorders; Liberia; intervention and assessment; psychiatric interventions; substance use practices; adolescent

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