The World Mental Health Day and the National Mental Health Week were launched in Accra yesterday on the theme: “Dignity in mental health — First aid for all”.
Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stress of life, work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
It follows, therefore, that any member of the community who does not have the capacity to fulfil the above is in a state that poses a mental health challenge, a situation that is usually of grave concern to the well-being of the community.
For this reason, it is imperative on the state to ensure that mental health is given the needed attention through the provision of funds and infrastructure.
Unfortunately, mental health appears to be a neglected area in health delivery in Ghana
At the launch of the week in Accra yesterday, the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Dr Akwasi Osei, observed that the lack of a sustainable fund for mental health had resulted in low quality mental health regime in the country and that is very disturbing.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one in five of the world’s population has mental problems. This figure paints a scary picture, indeed, especially viewed from the background that these patients are unpredictable and can be violent without any provocation.
It is against this background that the Daily Graphic is worried about the over 1,100 mentally challenged people said to be roaming the streets of the Ashanti Region alone, as announced by the Ashanti Regional Deputy Director of Health in charge of Clinical Health, Dr Fred Adomako-Boateng, at the celebration of Mental Health Day in Kumasi yesterday.
Juxtaposed against figures from other parts of the country, the national figures may be staggering.
While calling on the government to give more attention to mental health, the Daily Graphic calls on all Ghanaians to refrain from activities that have the tendency to result in states of mental disorder.
Medical knowledge indicates that substance use in pregnancy, infancy or family violence in childhood, poverty and chronic health conditions are some of the triggers of mental illness.
Plans by the authorities to tackle mental health with a multi-faceted and multi-sectoral approach are, therefore, in the right direction and we urge each and every Ghanaian to take a keen interest in the formative stages of life.
As a nation, we should vigorously promote interactions between and among social groups and encourage families and communities to address stigmatisation of the mentally ill and rather promote the rights, opportunities and care of individuals with mental disorders.
The Daily Graphic reiterates the need for the various stakeholders to expedite action on the passage of the Legislative Instrument that will give legal backing to the Mental Health Authority to establish the mental health fund.
If that is done, enough funds can be accrued to tackle head-on issues of mental health.