Mental Health Authority cries for more funding

BY: Rebecca Quaicoe Duho
Prof. Joseph Bediako Asare (right), Former Chairman of the Mental Health Board, giving his remarks. Picture: ESTHER ADJEI 
Prof. Joseph Bediako Asare (right), Former Chairman of the Mental Health Board, giving his remarks. Picture: ESTHER ADJEI 

The Mental Health Authority (MHA) has celebrated this year's Mental Health Day with a call on the government to allocate more resources to mental health care.

According to the authority, mental health care was bedeviled with a lot of financial difficulties which were making it impossible for the area to function properly.

Celebrating on the theme "The State of Mental Health in Ghana: Realigning resource allocation," panelists at a seminar called for more funding into mental health, saying that the state of the country's mental health care was not the best.

Sunday, October 10 was celebrated worldwide as Mental Health Day.

Lack of resources

The Hospital Director of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Kwadwo Marfo Obeng, who made a presentation on the theme, with Ankaful as a case study, said the situation at the facility was nothing to write home about.

Enumerating some of the problems at the facility, he said the 500-bed mental hospital had only two psychiatric doctors, one of whom was almost retiring.

The hospital, he said, had no psychologist, although they were specialists critically needed for the care of psychiatric patients.

Dr. Obeng, therefore, called for more investments into the training of psychiatric nurses, doctors and other supporting staff.

Covid-19 and mental health

The Deputy Chief Executive of the MHA, Dr. Caroline Amissah, in a keynote address also stressed the need for more funding for mental health care in the country.

According to her, many Ghanaians were presently living with one form of mental condition or the other without knowing, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic had also worsened the situation.

She said there was nothing the three mental health facilities could do about the situation as they were currently under resourced.

The Head of Pharmacy, MHA, Ms. Fidelicia Bakobie, who also spoke on the availability of psychiatric medications in the country, said funding for medications was inadequate and, therefore, the country had less drugs than needed to treat patients.

She called for an increased budgetary allocation for psychotropic medicines in the country.

According to her, there was the need to increase funding for psychotropic medicines to meet demand in the country.

The Executive Director of Basic Needs, Mr. Peter Yaro, called for collaboration between non-state actors and government agencies to ensure that resources were adequately harnessed.

Political will

A Deputy Director, MHA, Dr. Ama Pomaa Boadu, who spoke on community care, called for more political will in financing mental health care in the country.

A media practitioner, Mr. Kafui Dey, who spoke on how the media could be engaged, called for training and resources on psychiatric health to be made readily available to practitioners.

A retired Psychiatrist, Prof. Joseph B. Asare, who chaired the seminar, said although things had improved as against when he was in active service, there was still more to be done.

He called on the professionals not to give up in the area of mental health since, with persistence, they would succeed in their calls for more budgetary allocations.

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