Stakeholders demand govt’s intervention to tackle Mental Health in Ghana
Stakeholders in the Mental Health (MH) sector have held a two-day international conference to discuss on how to put appropriate measures in place to ensure that the Ghana continue to improve Mental Health Service delivery and challenges are properly tackled or attended to by government in the country.
The Maiden conference was dubbed “Prioritizing Mental
Health and Wellness
Research in Ghana:
Supporting a Paradigm Shift”.
The conference was geared toward reflecting on the challenges, progress, gains and the way forward since the passage of the Mental Health Act 2012 (846) 10 years ago. Ghana continue to make steady progress on Mental Health (MH) service delivery and is increasingly gaining recognition among citizens in the country .
Speaking to journalists, a Conference Organizing Committee Member and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychology University of Ghana (UG), Dr. Collins Badu Agyemang explained that the conference brought together stakeholders to discuss the present needs and challenges affecting Mental Health service delivery and researcher-practitioners took turns to share their research outputs to delegates.
According to him, though we have made some progress activating one of the key aspects of the Mental Health and other related Acts, a lot more support is needed from all stakeholders especially the government.
“We need the support of government to make MH a priority in order to ensure that issues affecting MH service delivery and other related issues are properly taken care of by the appropriate Ministry”, Dr. Agyemang noted.
He disclosed the enormous delay in constituting Mental Health Authority and Ghana Psychology Council Boards continue to be counter-productive. From his perspective, no professional board will be effective if they are to work within two years. How do will these board members plan, design and implement their strategies within two years?, Doctor Agyemang quizzed.
He further noted that stakeholders suggested the constitution of the Professional Boards should be delinked from government dispensation or change in government. He further stated that Professional Boards such as Mental Health Authority And Ghana Psychology Boards be allowed to a work for a five year period in order for them to strategically plan and implement the policies designed for MH activities in Ghana.
“This would ensure appropriate monitoring and evaluation of the gains that have been made by the Board Members”, he added.
He again advised government to inculcate MH studies into the curriculum of the mainstream Senior High School level that would pave way to introduce MH at the adolescent age which can help the students in their formative years, develop the right mindset and adopt the right priorities that would allow them not to adopt certain behavioral patterns that can endanger their MH.
“Adolescent MH is a key challenge in many countries, and Ghana as a country we are not different when it comes to challenges facing our young adults and the adolescents and so, a suggestion was made to introduce MH studies at the Senior High School level to curb the many social vices and other behavioral problems among the youth”, he said.
He therefore called on government to ensure the activation of the MH levy that would make it possible to raise enough funds which can be appropriately used to take care of MH planning, service delivery and other amenities in the sector.
“Since the MH Act indicates that its services delivery must be free to all Ghanaians, then everyone must be able to contribute something, it is about time the MH levy get activated. The economic situation in Ghana now may not make it viable implementing the mental health levy but I think government can set a target to do so by January 2024.
But awareness must be created to prepare the minds of Ghanaians towards this need which can help in funding MH activities in the country”, he noted.
He further urged Ghanaians to be one another’s keeper and monitor suspicious behavior of any relation, friend or person in the community and recommend them to any district or regional hospital to seek help since most psychologists are ready to assist them.
The Chief Executive of Mental Health Authority, Prof. Akwasi Osei also reiterated the need for further sensitisation and support for the MH. He outlined some gains within the MH sector.
He recalled how MH was under-resourced and the stigma associated with it was unbearable and the actions and inactions of the society towards MH Staff and patients cannot be explained, adding that, we were mostly ignored and avoided to even participate in social activities but with persistency and awareness creation and sensitisation, there was a paradigm shift in the mindset of Ghanaians because society have now accepted and included MH activities in their programmes.
He said because of the decentralization of MH, hospitals in the most districts and regions now takes in patients suffering from mental disorders without any detest.Prof. Osei made references to how MH has progress within the last 10-year period because within some period more Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) have joined the sector as advocates or activists to ensure that MH challenges are equally tackled with all seriousness across the country.
The Vice Chancellor of University of Health and Allied Sciences, Professor Lydia Aziato, in her keynote address, commended the organizers and called for collaboration by all stakeholders to ensure the progressive growth of mental health interventions in Ghana.
Others speakers includes Dr. Erica Danfrekua Dickson, Head of Therapy and Wellness Dept. 37 Military Hospital, Peter Yaro, Executive Director, Basic Needs-Ghana, Humphrey Kofie, Executive Director,of Mental Health Society of Ghana (MEHSOG) and Eseinam Drah, Mental Health Advocate.
A citation was read in honour of the Chief Executive of Mental Health Authority (MHA), Prof. Kwasi Osei for his enormous contribution, advocacy, interventions and support towards the success and progress of Mental Health services across the country.
“With this Citation, we honour you for your pioneering leadership, remarkable accomplishments, and your life of service to the development and expansion of Mental Health in Ghana. Your profound work ethic, commitment to service and passion for mental health have changed lives across Ghana and beyond”, the Citation reads.
Source Eric Nii Sackey