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Health News of Monday, 10 February 2014

Source: GNA

Prayer camps complicates mental health condition

“The insufficient mental health facilities and specialist doctors have led to the violation of the rights of people with mental illness at prayers camps.”

Mr. Gabriel Benarkuu, Chairman of the Brong Ahafo Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (BANGO), made the statement at a research finding validation workshop in Sunyani.

The Network was established over 20 years ago by social development groups and advocates in the areas of education, environment, health and human rights interventions.

The research, jointly undertaken last year by BANGO and Star- Ghana, aimed at finding out the mental health situation in the Region.

Mr. Benarkuu said the research revealed that only 1,451 people with mental health illness and epilepsy had access to treatment, psychiatric, counseling and care services while over 21,000 did not get access to mental health services.

Mr. Benarkuu noted that conditions and treatment at the various camps and homes complicated the situation of mental health, adding that only 10 District Hospitals out of 27 at which the research was carried out, has Mental Health Units.

Mr. Benarkuu lamented that even the 10 Mental Units existed in name because some of them did not have psychiatric nurses while others were not functioning at all.

He said the research also revealed that the Social Welfare Department did not give much attention to mental health issues, because it either had little or no knowledge and information about mental health; and it also lack resources to effectively offer social services in the districts.

Mr. Benarkuu stressed the need for collaboration between the District Assemblies, Ghana Health Service and private health care providers for effective mental health service delivery.

He suggested that people with mental illness should be classified as indigenous, to enable them to benefit from the Disabled Common Fund, Health Insurance and District Development Fund.

He appealed to the Media to report more on mental health to educate the general public about the Mental Health Law, since inadequate knowledge and poor dissemination of information on the Law has led to stigmatization against mental patients.