Compiled by Bernice Bessey & Maxwell Obiri-Yeboah .
Fifty-seven percent (57%) of this population is made up the youth below age 25, despite the country’s inability to provide sound mental healthcare for them, though the World Health Organization (WHO) has established that all mental illness start at age 14.
This means, Ghana risks losing its active population at a very youthful age in the face of no Legislative Instrument (LI) to ensure the effective implementation of the Mental Health Act, to drug abuse, excessive alcohol use, and economic hardship.
Policy think-tank Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-GHANA), observing this with a worry, called on the government to present an LI to Parliament so that as soon as the House resumes sitting, for the full operationalisation of the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846).
CDD-GHANA, on Tuesday, October 10, 2018, issued a strong statement to mark World Mental Health Day, and also to add up to the many voices calling for the restructuring and designing of mental health care.
According to the policy think-tank, the absence of LI backing the Mental Health Act, coupled with insufficient resources allocation to mental healthcare, inadequate number of mental health professionals and cultural and tradition, are factors that impede the efficient delivery of mental health care.
Thus, a total disregard for the dignity and fundamental human rights of mental health patients, and the absence of a governing board for the Mental Health Authority, should be matters of grave concern, not only to the government, but to the citizens as well.
In the light of this, CDD-Ghana deems it appropriate that this year’s World Mental Health Day focuses on the youth, under the theme “People and Mental Health in a Changing World”, as the age at which mental disorders begin to affect people was scary.
To the organisation: “In the face of the overwhelming number of youth without employment, coupled with economic conditions, which form part of the triggers of youth vulnerability to mental distress, it is important safeguard the future of our country by protecting the mental health of the youth to enable them contribute to the socio-economic development of Ghana, as they make up a greater percentage of the country’s workforce.”
It further appealed to the government to provide adequate resources to all mental health centers across the country, while it takes steps to ensure the mental health agencies are well captured in the 2019 budget reading.
Appoint a governing board for the Mental Health Authority, as well as provide the Authority with the needed resources to operate.
Parliament to deliberate on LI
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Korley-Klottey Constituency, Dr. Zanetor Agyemang-Rawlings, joining the Accra Psychiatric Hospital on its opening day to mark the ‘World Mental Health Day’ yesterday, gave the assurance that Parliament will deliberate on the LI when it resumes from recess.
This, she noted, will help address some teething problems in the delivery of mental healthcare.
To the Psychiatric Hospital and the inmates, the MP donated assorted items such as toiletries, adult diapers, food provisions, and many others.
In her observation that the hospital needs more than physical infrastructural support, she said: “The staff here work under dangerous conditions, and there is a need for them to get what they need to work efficiently in their units.”
The MP continued that “stigmatizing mental health is not good, and there should be more collaboration with the general public, corporate entities, as well as the government to solve this issue.”
Despite the numerous challenges facing the hospital, she urged the health workers to ensure that the service they render should be of international standards.
Other organisations including Friends of Mental Health and Accra City Hotel donated items like mattresses, food, toiletries, wheelchairs and other medical equipment.
Dr. Ama Boadu, Head of the Public Relations of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, who received the items on behalf of the institution, Pantang and Ankaful Mental hospitals thanked the organisations for the gestures.