A book on the history of mental health care in the country has been launched in Accra.
Said to be the first of its kind in the country, the book seeks to provide adequate and accurate information that will help improve mental healthcare delivery and professional training.
It was co-authored by the immediate past and the present Chief Psychiatrists, Professor Joseph Asare and Dr Akwasi Osei, respectively, together with a British lecturer in Ghana, Mr Mark Roberts.
The 378-page book, titled: “The History of Mental Health Care in Ghana”, was launched at an event supported by the Psychiatry Association of Ghana, the Mental Health Authority (MHA), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in Accra last Friday.
In a chronological order, the book outlines the journey of mental health care in Ghana, its challenges, successes to date and some lessons that can help improve care in the sector.
Besides, it contains a review of psychiatry in the global sphere, Africa and Ghana; the beginnings of the three public psychiatric hospitals in the country the origin of psychiatric nursing and community psychiatry and psychiatry education in the country.
The book recognises the contribution of the Daily Graphic to public education on mental health and mentions three of its journalists — Ms Doreen Hammond, Mrs Doreen Andoh and Ms Caroline Boateng — for their in-depth and consistent reportage on the subject area.
It also seeks to honour the heroes and heroines of mental health care in the country.
Underscoring the critical need for such a journal, Dr Osei, who is the Chief Executive of the MHA, said Ghana’s mental healthcare sector was gaining international prominence and it was clear that people around the world would be researching into its beginnings and progress for various reasons.
“However, there is very little documented historical information.
The few materials available tend to contradict themselves, hence the need to invest in coordinating and harmonising all available information in order to highlight the true picture of mental health care in the country,” he said.
He said the authors individually conceived the idea to write such a book many years ago, and in 2012, the first concrete steps to write it collectively began.
Dr Osei said the book was very resourceful because the information put together in it was from a wide variety of sources, such as the British archives.
He said the book would become an in-depth resource manual for healthcare practitioners, researchers, students in health care, policy makers and health tutors, providing them with sufficient information on mental health care.
For his part, Prof. Asare said unlike in the past when there were only a couple of psychiatrists in Ghana, the sector had produced about 52 doctors to advance mental health care.
However, he said without deliberate investment in the sector, professionals could only do their best, which might not be enough to deal with Ghana’s mental healthcare needs.
The Founder of the Salt and Light Ministries, Rev. Joyce Aryee, who chaired the launch, said a population with a sound mind was critical to socio-economic development.
“As a country, we have lost many things because we have been engrossed in charting new paths and have refused to trace the paths we have followed.
We need to understand where we have come from to be able to progress,” she said.
She called for more advocacy on mental health, particularly bipolar disorders and post-partum depression, because everyone was vulnerable to it.