‘Expedite passage of Mental Health Bill’

BY: Juliet Akyaa Safo
Mr Stephen Nana Amoako Wiredu (2nd right), Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Friends of Mental Health presenting the items to Dr Ama Boadu (2nd left), Head of Public Relations, Accra Psychiatric Hospital during the ceremony. Looking on are Mr Tang Hong (3rd left), Chairman of the Ghana Chinese Chamber of Commerce, some members of the  Chamber and officials of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.
Mr Stephen Nana Amoako Wiredu (2nd right), Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Friends of Mental Health presenting the items to Dr Ama Boadu (2nd left), Head of Public Relations, Accra Psychiatric Hospital during the ceremony. Looking on are Mr Tang Hong (3rd left), Chairman of the Ghana Chinese Chamber of Commerce, some members of the Chamber and officials of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.

Parliament has been asked to expedite action on the legislative instrument (LI) regarding the Mental Health Act (Act 846) that was passed in 2012 to ensure its effective implementation.

The request was made by the Communications and Research Lead of Friends of Mental Health, Madam Jennifer Akuamoah.

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She said it was worrying that Parliament had not backed the Mental Health Act, in spite of the establishment of a Mental Health Authority.

Friends of Mental Health is a non-governmental organisation that advocates an end to stigmatisation of mental health patients and promotes quality mental health care across the country.

She was speaking at a ceremony dubbed: “Open Day” organised by the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, in collaboration with the Mental Health Authority, as part of a week-long celebration to mark World Mental Health Day on the theme: “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World”.

Legislative Instrument


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Madam Akuamoah explained that “medications for mental illness were expensive and so when passed and implemented, the Mental Health Act would, among other things, help subsidise the cost of drugs”.

“Currently, we are working with some NGOs in mental health and the Mental Health Authority to push for the passage of the LI, so that at least mental health drugs will be made less expensive or readily available in mental health facilities,” she said.

The Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku in the Greater Accra Region, Dr Benard Okoe Boye, who was present at the ceremony, said some steps had been taken by Parliament to pass the LI on mental health.

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“We will pursue the passage of the LI to ensure that the act is implemented and I’m sure of a positive result next year,” he said.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the MP for Klottey Korle, Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, said Parliament would  resume sitting at the end of October, take up the issue and speed up processes to make the House to pass the LI.

She called for more education to end the stigmatisation of people with mental health disorders.

Open day

The day was marked with several activities, including guided tours of the facility, poetry recital and the presentation of items by some NGOs and individuals.
Scores of students drawn from 18 institutions attended the event and were taken round the facility to enable them to familiarise themselves with conditions at the hospital.

Donation

Friends of Mental Health, with support from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, donated items worth GH¢70,000 to the Mental Health Authority for distribution to the Accra, Pantang and Ankaful Psychiatric hospitals.
The items included toiletries, 90 mattresses, 300 gallons of detergents, GH¢5,000 worth of washing powder and bed sheets.

Tour

During a tour of the Female Ward, a Senior Nurse, Mrs Rejoice Mispa Anaman, told the Daily Graphic that relationships were a major cause of mental illness among female patients at the hospital.

Other causes, she said, were alcohol abuse and the intake of hard drugs.

An officer at the special open air ward said nurses at the ward were not covered by insurance, in spite of the harsh working conditions.

He appealed to the government and benevolent organisations to support the hospital to improve working conditions and infrastructure facilities.

World Mental Day

The World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10, every year, with the aim of creating awareness of mental health issues around the world and to intensify efforts at supporting mental health.

The day also presents an opportunity for stakeholders working in mental health institutions to talk about their work and to chart the way forward in making mental health care in Ghana less demanding.