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Health News of Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Source: myjoyonline.com

Pay attention to mental health- Dwamena Aboagye

The Executive Director of The Ark Foundation, Angela Dwamena Aboagye, has challenged relevant institutions- both state and private - to pay attention to conditions which contribute to mental ill-health of the general populace.

On Monday, the Accra Psychiatric Hospital sent home 30 treated and discharged patients from the Eastern and Volta regions to re-integrate with their families.

According to hospital authorities, these patients, some of whom have been residents of the psychiatric facility for up to 20 years, had been abandoned by their families despite receiving full treatment.

The move, which is intended to help decongest the hospital, is also an initiative to re-unite the patients with their families.

Expressing her views on the matter on Joy News' Current Affairs Programme, pm: EXPRESS, Angela Dwamena Aboagye, who admitted that she was a mental health survivor for close to three years, said: “If the problem of mental health is under estimated, by 2020 to 2025, we will be getting a huge population [mentally ill persons] because of factors of migration, poverty, social conditions, and stress at work. It is therefore important for the country to pay attention to these conditions.”

The statistics of Mental Health in Ghana, paints a rather gloomy picture even with the passage into law of the Mental Health Bill. Research reveals that 49 out of every 50 people with mental health problems do not receive any treatment, while there were hardly any services for children.

Ghana currently has three specialized psychiatric hospitals, all within close proximity to the capital. Care is provided to only small proportions of the population. One of the objectives of the Mental Health Act, over the next 10 years, is to ensure that through education and awareness creation on mental health issues would be widespread in the country.

The law also seeks to depart from the residential system of psychiatric care to a community-based care through specialized regional and district centers across the country.

This, according to Mrs Dwamena Aboagye, requires more funding and a complete change in the way things have been done in the past.

Mr. Peter Yaro, the Executive Director of Basic Needs Ghana, an NGO involved in mental health issues, who was also on the show, added that it is long overdue for Ghana to implement the Mental Health Act which was passed and assented to by the President last year.

Medical Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Akwasi Osei who joined the discussion via telephone, noted that the reintegration of a projected 450 patients (over the next 12 months), will not pose any danger to the society.

The law in the next ten years would look at increasing the current number of psychiatrists from 14 to 100. In addition, other health workers such as Psychiatric nurses, Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatric Social Workers and Psychiatric Medical Assistant, traditional and Faith-based healers among other, would receive training and used as front-liners.

This according to Angela Dwamena Aboagye is a good step since the country has just a few health practitioners, and even fewer psychiatric health practitioners.

She told show host, Stephen Anti, that, “The problem with mental health generally is that, Governments over the years have not prioritized social protection issues in their budgetary allocations”.

The general view is that, Ghana as a country needs to pay a lot more attention to mental health care through its journey to upper middle income status.

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