Languishing in the streets, they sleep on the sidewalks without restricting themselves, silent at times and noisy at others. Dressed in dirty clothes, they simultaneously provoke fear, sympathy and astonishment. This is a window into the lives of people with mental disorders in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, who are numerous and actually have represented a kind of a phenomenon in recent years.
According to formal data, an estimated 33 per cent of Mauritanian citizens require psychological treatment for the various mental disorders. Reasons ascribed to mental disorders, according to the study, range from depression and apprehension to educational, professional and social failure as well as drug addiction.
This has urged calls for a plan to mitigate mental disorders through giving attention to people’s mental health because the current situation is deeply distressing.
One of the myths that dominate Mauritanian society is the notion that all mental disorders are due to demons and the way to treat people possessed by them is through dispelling them and cleansing the body of their effects.
Instead of visiting psychologists, people in Mauritania who go through psychological problems resort to witches and swindlers.