The Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) has rejected a suggestion that marijuana should be legalised in Ghana.
According to CHAG, marijuana, popularly referred to as “wee” in Ghana, has been identified as one of the major causes of mental illness in the country.
CHAG is the umbrella organisation of all Christian/Mission health facilities/hospitals across the country.
Mental Health Act
The Deputy Executive Secretary of CHAG, Dr James Duah, who made the position of the association known in an interview in Tamale, said the legalisation of the substance would make it easily accessible.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a sensitisation workshop for pastors on the Mental Health Act in Tamale last Saturday.
The workshop was to educate the pastors on the Mental Health Act 2012 (ACT 846) and also to sensitise them to their role in the mental health delivery process, as well as the need for them to support in the re-integration of cured persons into the communities using their various platforms.
It was organised by CHAG, in collaboration with the King’s Medical Centre, a CHAG institution at Botanga in the Kumbungu District in the Northern Region.
An easy access to it, Dr Duah explained, would also increase its intake with its attendant increase in mental illness in the country.
He stated that it was estimated that only two per cent of the people suffering from mental illness in the country had access to mental health care.
Dr Duah said the use of marijuana should be restricted to the pharmaceutical companies and must therefore not be legalised.
The role of pastors
At the workshop, Dr Duah said pastors played a critical role in shaping the minds of people and influencing the society.
That, he said, informed the decision by CHAG to engage them to help use their pulpits in the mental health delivery process and help reduce the stigmatisation associated with mental illness.
He stated that mental illness was like any other ailment that could be treated.
“As much as we accept people who have undergone treatment for other ailments, we must equally accept persons with mental illness who have been treated into our fold,” he told the participants and added that “everybody can become mentally ill at any point in life since we are all at risk of having a mental disorder one way or the other so we don’t have to reject or discriminate against persons who are mentally ill,” he said.
Dr Duah appealed to the government to pass the Legislative Instrument (LI) to help in the full implementation of the Mental Health Act and also make mental health to be part of the National Health
Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to remove the entire financial burden on access to care.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of King’s Village Medical Centre, Rev. Ben Owusu Sekyere, urged pastors to support in the delivery of mental health care at the community level by helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.