Mental health: A universal human right indeed
Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that globally, one in eight people lives with mental health conditions.
To underscore the importance of mental health, on October 10 each year, the global community commemorates World Mental Health Day to raise awareness, enhance understanding and encourage steps that will safeguard the mental health of all irrespective of their status in society.
So, the call by the WHO to everybody to take a moment to learn something about mental health and join in the fight to break barriers and create a world where everyone has access to the care and support the patients need to live healthy and productive lives is a worthy call the Daily Graphic endorses.
The Daily Graphic finds it opportune the theme for this year’s celebration: “Mental health is a universal human right.
” It should encourage Ghanaians to come together not only to increase public awareness of concerns associated with mental health, but galvanise us as a people to provide the requisite support for mental health patients.
It is time we recognised as a nation that mental health is a basic human right for all of us and, thus, seek to ensure that all of us no matter our location are afforded the opportunity to attain standard mental health.
As the WHO states on this year’s celebration, “this includes the right to be protected from mental health risks, the right to available, accessible, acceptable and good quality care, and the right to liberty, independence and inclusion in the community.”
We believe that having a mental health condition should not deprive any individual of his or her right or be excluded or ostracised from the community or the workplace.
Upholding and protecting the rights of people are important because the social stigma linked to mental disorders remains prevalent and limits patients’ ability to seek help.
In our part of the world, people with mental health conditions are often abandoned in mental health facilities or churches and are often discriminated against.
In many other instances they are left without health care.
We join the WHO in stressing that people with mental health issues have the right to live their lives free from stigma and discrimination at the workplace, school and the community.
We must, therefore, provide the right environment for mental health patients to access good health care and not be discriminated against.
People with the condition have better outcomes when they receive, among others, psychotherapy, occupational therapy and, of course, care from their immediate families, society and the community as a whole.
It is quite commendable that the Mental Health Authority is still enforcing the ban on chaining and shackling of persons with mental illness since 2019.
The Daily Graphic endorses the call on all, including development partners and caregivers, to collaborate effectively to remove obstacles and to broaden support for those living with the condition.
Stigmatisation kills and it is a big stumbling block to their full recuperation, as well as a threat to a relapse of such patients.
The onus is therefore on all of us to contribute our quota to create the right environment and condition for them to come back to normalcy.
It is a fact that some of the patients in these facilities who are fully cured remain in health facilities because of the stigma that comes with the condition and because of the way society out there would treat them.
Some of these patients end up adopting the facilities as their homes because they rather feel safe and secure there instead of being with their relatives.
Management of these facilities, on different occasions, lamented the fact that some relatives, after taking the patients to the facilities, never follow up, while others often gave wrong addresses to avoid being traced for the patient to return.
If we all develop a better attitude towards mental health patients, we will be creating a safer and more conducive environment for all.
Persons with mental health conditions deserve better and it is our collective responsibility to be compassionate, kind and supportive towards them.
That is all they desire from us, as a society, to help bring them back into our fold to contribute their quota towards the overall development of this country.