Mental health needs no stigma
Facts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that in 2019, one in every eight people, or 970 million people around the world, was living with a mental disorder, with anxiety and depressive disorders being the most common.
The WHO further estimates that at any one time, a diverse set of individual, family, community and structural factors may combine to protect or undermine mental health. Although most people are resilient, people who are exposed to adverse circumstances, including poverty, violence, disability and inequality, are at higher risk.
On May 24, 2023, Ghana joined the rest of the world to commemorate Schizophrenia Day on the theme, "Celebrating the power of community kindness. "
This year's theme has brought into focus the very reason for the institution of the day, which seeks to fight against stigma and to make it easier for people to seek different resources to get help.
In Ghana, data available show that there is a consistent increase in cases of Shizophrenia, which is a mental condition. For instance, from 19,856 persons with the case in 2020, it increased to 20,755 in 2021 and peaked in 2022 with 24,790 cases.
Disturbingly, within the first three months of this year, 8,446 cases have already been reported, giving every indication that by the end of the year, the figures would outstrip the previous years.
The Board Chairman of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Estelle Appiah, told journalists that people with the condition had better outcomes when they received, among others, psychotherapy, occupational therapy and, of course, care from their immediate families, society and the community as a whole.
Social stigma linked to mental disorders remains prevalent and limits help-seeking.
It is quite commendable that the MHA is still enforcing the ban on chaining and shacking of persons with mental illness since 2019. The Daily Graphic endorses the ban and 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 and a threat to a relapse of such patients and the onus is 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 have, on different occasions, lamented the fact that some relatives, after taking the patients to the facilities, never followed up, while others often gave wrong addresses to avoid being traced for the patient to return.
So, the call by the MHA to every Ghanaian 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 care and support is a worthy one the Daily Graphic endorses.
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.