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Crest Consultant Clinic
Benin developed, validated and adopted a mental health policy in 2009, but it is not well endorsed. A mental health policy and plan is present. Although an essential medicines list is present in the country, the medicines are not always available. The mental health program in Benin contains the following components: development of community psychiatric services, development of a mental health component in primary health care and the availability of human resources. In addition, a budget, agenda and specific objectives have been identified. There is no emergency or disaster preparedness plan for mental health. With regard to the area of mental health services, the population does not have free access to essential psychotropic medicines.
A national authority of mental health which provides advice to the government on policies and legislation exists. The mental health authority is also involved in service planning and the control and assessment of the quality of the mental health services. Mental health services are not organized in terms of catchment/ service areas.
Also, four percent of the training for medical doctors and 1% of training for nurses is devoted to mental health. There is no refresher training in mental health for primary health care doctors, primary care nurses or non-doctor/non-nurse primary health care workers.
There is not a formal legal system of hospitalisation or forced hospitalization (without consent of the patient) in Benin. Rather, patients are generally accompanied to consultation by their families who ask for their hospitalisation. When hospitalisation is requested by the doctor, the family’s consent is required and it is generally accorded.
In Bénin, despite training specialists in mental health since 1985, levels remain low due to the length of training, and because there is little interest in this specialty, due to stigma.
The assessment revealed that there are 4 community-based psychiatric units and 4 mental hospitals (1 public and 3 private) in Benin. There are no separate outpatients facilities in the country, however outpatients care is provided in general and mental hospitals.
Mental health professionals and mental health services are especially limited for children and adolescents and people who do not live in the capital city. Also, primary care providers have little training in mental health and there are no protocols for how to treat or refer people with mental disorders.
Non-doctor and non-nurse primary health care workers are not allowed to prescribe psychotropic drugs, whereas nurses are allowed to prescribe only in emergency situations or by derogation. Physicians in primary health care are allowed to prescribe drugs without restriction. The medical clinics however, often do not have psychotropic drugs available.
The number of psychiatric doctors is insufficient in Benin, added to the absence of qualified nurses with training in mental health.
Mental health facilities and specialists are concentred in Cotonou.
Psychologists are not employed within the official health care system.
Resources allocated to the mental health sector are insufficient with respect to its needs.
For a deeper exploration of the counselling profession in the country, interested readers are recommended to read the following journal articles:
- Maiga, D. D., & Eaton, J. (2014). A survey of the mental healthcare systems in five Francophone countries in West Africa: Bénin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Togo. International Psychiatry, 11(03), 69–72. doi:10.1192/s1749367600004549
- WHO-AIMS Report on Mental Health System in the Republic of Benin. (2007). World Health Organization.