Govt. & Institutions urged to prioritize mental health in Ghana

Government and Institutions has been called upon to prioritize mental health as well commit to its funding across the country.

This call was made by Basic Needs Ghana, a non-governmental Organization (NGO) that seeks the welfare and being of mental health persons across the country.

It is estimated that 2.7 million Ghanaians have mild and moderate mental disorders and 650,000 Ghanaians are suffering from severe mental illness and about.

This harrowing situation, according to Basic Needs Ghana can be reduced to the barest minimum if enough funds are committed to support the treatment of persons leaving with mental health as well as create awareness on mental health.

Speaking at a stakeholder’s forum on Mental Health in Accra on Thursday, the Programmes Manager of Basic Needs Ghana, Mr. Adams Dokurugu, explained that the mental health is an important segment of the health care delivery in the country hence the urgent need for government, donor agencies and corporate institutions to commit a lot of resources to help champion the course of people living with it.

According to him, aside lack of funding for mental health care, stigmatization and negative perception, inadequate infrastructure amongst others remain a big challenge adding however that with enough funds to create the awareness and support mental health issues, the challenges would be a thing of the past.

“The priority of a mental health patient is for him or her is to be treated, therefore our wish is.

that there would be an improved mental health service policy and environment, increased funding for integrated community mental health care and improved mental health care for vulnerable people living with mental health care” he stressed

Mr. Dokurugu later emphasized that Basic Needs Ghana focuses on developing and implementing initiatives that directly support people living with mental health adding that the NGO has supported cured mental health patients in livelihood empowerment such as hairdressing, seamstresing, vegetable farming and animal farming to help integrate them into the society.

The Programmes Manager therefore called on government, donor agencies as well as corporate institutions to financially support mental health care delivery and programmes in order to help mitigate drastically the challenges associated with mental health in the country.

The Chief Executive of Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei the passage of the Mental Health law has contributed to significant progress on the mental health care in the country.

According to him, until the Law, 98% of mental health care was focused in the city and only 2% was focused in the communities adding that with the coming into force of the Law, 30% of mental health care remains in the city and 70% in the communities, making mental health care a decentralized one.

Dr. Osei also disclosed that there about 16,000 mental health patients walking on the streets of Accra maintaining that the mental health Authority has developed a 4 year strategic plan and that by the end of the strategic Plan, all these patients would have been taken from the streets.

The Chief Psychiatrist also disclosed that the Authority would need about ghc 254 million in the first year of the 4 year strategic plan and additional gh 30million to be able to complete it.

 He later called for the Accra Psychiatric Hospital to be made a model hospital and regional hospitals having psychiatric units where they can receive psychiatric patients, treat them and later transfer them to the wards.

“7% of GDP is lost to mental health. This because people are not going to work as a result of mental health issues, and that led to the 7% lost to the GDP. Mental health is expensive and it is more expensive when you feel unwell. It is therefore imperative for a lot of funding to be injected into the sector to better manage mental health care in the country” he emphasized.

The Director of Institutional at the Ghana Health Service Dr. Samuel Bakah who represented the Director General of the Ghana Health Service and Dr. Ernest Konadu Asiedu who also represented the Health Minister all took turns to express government’s commitment to prioritize mental health care in the country.

Source:www.the new independent online.com/Ishmael Barfi/ senghana@gmail.com

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