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"Stop human rights violations against people with disabilities & mental health conditions"

BY: Hope for Future Generations
Mrs Cecelia Senoo, the Executive Director of Hope for Future Generations (HFFG)
Mrs Cecelia Senoo, the Executive Director of Hope for Future Generations (HFFG)

We, the Hope for Future Generations write to condemn some derogatory comments and actions which were revealed to have been done against people with mental health conditions on a television discussion dubbed Black Stars Classics which has gone viral on social media in the past few days.

The discussions led by a seasoned Ghanaian sports journalist (Host) and Chief Drummer of the Black Stars (guest) revealed that some Ghanaian Management gave alms to seven people with mental health conditions in a bid to win the Cup. While we propagate a positive culture of support for people with mental health conditions, we do not align with a culture of support on ulterior motives.

The act was discriminatory and likely to increase fear and panic among people with mental health conditions and their caregivers and even among the general population.

We also condemn the use of derogatory words by the panellists in describing people with mental health conditions. The use of such derogatory words are stigmatising and discriminatory and it is against their human rights. The effect of stigma and discrimination include delay in seeking treatment, treatment discontinuation, difficulties obtaining housing and employment, social isolation, and adverse economic effects among others.

We encourage the use of positive language when describing or talking to and about people with disabilities including people with mental health conditions such as:

• a person with disability not a disabled/challenged person

• a person with mental health condition not a mad person or lunatic

• a person with albinism not an albino

• a person with physical disability not physically disabled/challenged or crippled or lame

• a person with hearing impairment/deaf not deaf and dumb

• a visually impaired or blind not quarter-to-one

The use of positive language shows acceptance, reduces stigma and allows people with mental health conditions to live normal healthy lives and work to reach their full potential.

We use this occasion to appeal to the general public to desist from circulating the said video and for that matter any information that speaks or show acts of abuse of human rights of people with disabilities including those with mental health conditions. We call on state agencies to call for the retraction of this video and sanction the owners of these channels if they fail to pull down the videos.

We encourage the media to be circumspect in their reportage. Much as the heading of the said report was misleading and sensational, it is our candid view that act of giving alms were for ritual purposes. The choice of persons with mental health conditions was deliberate and premediated. We once again call on the relevant state agencies to strengthen the enforcement of laws and policies that govern disabilities including mental health conditions in Ghana.

Hope for Future Generations and The PsyKForum, is a consortium, implementing the Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) and stigma reduction for mental health and disability inclusion project funded with UK Aid from the UK Government under Ghana Somubi Dwumadie (Ghana Participation Programme).

Signed

Mrs Cecilia Senoo
Executive Director, Hope for Future Generations

Ms Vivian Aubyn
Coordinator-General, The PsykForum