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Opinions of Friday, 12 August 2016

Columnist: Ashitey, Emmanuel Amarh

Challenges facing Accra Psychiatric Hospital

Mental health care is becoming a critical international concern, but as a country we are still straining to attend to the mental health needs of our suffering and stigmatized citizens across the country where government and the society has not given proper attention to mentally ill patient in the country.

Psychaid and Love has observed that mentally ill patient are some of the most vulnerable people in our country where the very suffering patients are not giving proper care. It is very shameful to hear that Ghana’s main hospital for mentally ill patients is facing closure to the point that patients are been turned away from receiving treatment.

They are often subject to discrimination, social isolation and exclusion, human rights violations, and demeaning stigma which leads to denial of social support, self-reproach, or the decaying or straining of important relationships.

The current situation at Accra Psychiatric Hospital if not addressed by Government, Mental health authority and all Stakeholders, it will affect the country in so many ways , as a country we need to wake up to address the situation facing Accra Psychiatric Hospital.

Consequences of poor mental health system include the dumping of the mentally ill people on our streets and communities, this is what we should expect as a country if we don’t address the current situation, if patients are been turned away from the hospital then we have a very big challenge ahead of us as country.

How did we get to this level of closing our main Psychiatric hospital in the country where mentally ill patients who want treatment are been turned away because the hospitals owe suppliers and cannot pay its debt and due to that patients have to be turned away? Does a person with mental health problem become a ‘lesser human being’ in our country if no then we need to respect their rights and make sure that they get treatment?

Psychaid and Love has also observed that if proper attention is not paid to the current situation at Accra Psychiatric Hospital it can account for violence, drug trafficking, child abuse, suicide, crime, and other social vices since many patients with all kinds of illness will be left to their fate in our country.

The main strength of Accra Psychiatric Hospital is the presence of a long established service with staff working across the country in outpatients departments and hospitals. The main weakness of Accra Psychiatric Hospital is the government’s inadequate or lack of enough resource allocation for mental health care delivery and this is affecting the capacity of the operation of the hospital.

The W.H.O requires that mental healthcare should start from self-care through informal community care, primary healthcare, community health service, regional and finally to long stay facilities. But sadly, the opposite is what prevails in Ghana.

In Ghana, the top ten mental problems often found with patients on admission at psychiatric hospitals according to the 2003 government report include schizophrenia, substance Abuse, depression, hypomania, acute organic brain syndrome, manic depressive psychosis, schizo-affective psychosis, alcohol dependency syndrome, epilepsy and dementia.

It is very sad that since the mental health law has been passed things have been worse. Specifically, some of the provisions in the new Act include:

1. Improving access to in-patient and out-patient mental care in the communities which people live.

2. Regulation of mental health practitioners in both public and private sectors and traditional healers too, everywhere in communities and hospitals.

3. Combating of discrimination and stigmatization against people with mental illness and promoting their human rights among others.

Despite the above provisions, mental health issues in Ghana continue to become a challenge. Although, mental health bill has been passed, provisions made have not been implemented. The Board formed to address issues concerning mental illness has not been able to do what is expected of them apparently because the government has still not provided enough structures for them to function.

It is therefore not surprising to hear on air recently that some mental hospital might close down due to inadequate food and financial constraints facing the hospitals.

PSYCHAID&LOVE with this release is calling on government and all stakeholders to address the current situation at Accra Psychiatric Hospital with all seriousness it deserved since the effects will affect the country if not addressed.

SIGNED

LUCKY AMY BITTOR (PRESIDENT) +233208496984

PRINCE ATORKEY (Vice President) +233246598482

JUSTICE OKAI-ALLOTEY (SECRETARY) +233540394970