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In Cameroon does being mentally ill mean being abandoned?

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Judith Ngamené et ses volontaires dans les rues de Dschang, au Cameroun.

Mental health

In the eastern city of Dschang in Cameroon, it is no longer surprising for the inhabitants to see Judith Ngamene, the founder of APBE, walking the streets of the city in search of the mentally ill. She is accompanied by her team of volunteers, who finds patients.

The Central African country often stigmatises people with mental health disorders and it is common for them to be rejected by their families and society.

They are then given spare clothes, a trimmer for their long hair and food. She embarked on this journey nine years ago after rescuing a mentally ill girl from the street, who was in the process of giving birth to a pair of twins.

_"We support vulnerable people in general, abandoned people, vulnerable people, unloved people, lonely people, orphans and all those who are in need, the needy," said _Ngamene.

In Cameroon, most people with mental health problems are rejected by their families, their children, and society.

The association now operates in Dschang, Mbouda and Bafoussam with 30 volunteers. Ngamene's objective is to open a modern care center for people suffering from poor mental health, which is common in some European countries.

"In the street they don't have the same pathologies in fact. We will see those who have been abandoned because they are depressed, there are also schizophrenics, but schizophrenia is a genetic disease, one is born with it and it cannot end, which means that it is possible to find and administer medication so that they are mentally stable,"said Dr. Pulcherie Tatang, Secretary General of the APBE.

She said they cannot be cured but said "those who are just depressed can totally recover mental stability."

But there is a big stigma in the country.

"In Cameroon, the mentally ill are rejected by their families, their children, and society," Tatang said.