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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide Network

Rage of lunatics

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The danger posed by the mentally challenged and substance abusers is on the front burners. The subject has never begged for attention as it did last week.

A number of mentally deranged persons have gone on rampage in the past week, drawing blood and registering gruesome fatalities worthy of front pages.

For those who did not appreciate the work of medical personnel in the line of mental health delivery, perhaps this is an opportunity for them to do so. We are now in a better position to consider the danger such personnel face daily as they manage the conditions suffered by schizophrenics, paranoids, psychopaths and other forms of mental challenges, with a propensity to become violent and murderous.

It is time we reconsidered mental health and how to manage it in our society through especially retooling those managing it and providing the necessary education to have the superstitious disabuse their minds about the myths about mental challenge.

While it is very important to ensure that the newly established Mental Health Authority is not just one of the starving agencies existing only on paper – the staff not having access to the necessary tools to ply their trade with – there is the need to let Ghanaians, both in rural and urban parts of the country, to understand that mental health, like any other ailment, is treatable by professionals either psychotherapeutically or medically.

Our commentary has been informed by the gruesome murders by persons said to be mentally challenged in the past week. Pictures of the victims of the gory murders are too graphic and bloody to be reproduced, although they have trended wildly on social media.

. The development, which we pray we do not have to return to, has prompted important discussion among a section of Ghanaians who agree generally that something must be done to obviate a recurrence.

In a country where lunatics loiter freely without any hindrance, nobody can predict when one of them would pounce upon a child or even an adult with a dangerous weapon.

The story about a lunatic who killed a girl in one of the regions and ate part of her made worrying reading. For us to encounter a series of fatal attacks by more lunatics is adequate signal for us to wake up and do something about mental health.

Some have remarked rather cynically that lunatics are apprehended and moved to the mental health facilities only when they threaten lives and properties or even kill.

The need for people to be observant and to request for assistance from mental health personnel when they begin to observe strange conduct by mentally challenged persons within their families should not be overlooked.

The man who murdered his father and mother and two others before he was lynched by angry youth in the Assin Fosu area of the Central Region should have been exhibiting violent traits before his deadly act. Unfortunately, such traits are largely ignored until the unexpected happens.

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