BY PHILIP ANTOH firstname.lastname@example.org
A CLINICAL Psychologist and Suicidologist at the University of Ghana, Psychology Department, Dr Joseph Osafo, has said about 80% of Ghanaians are living with one form of mental illness or another.
According to Dr Osafo, globally 75% of suicide cases occur in developing countries, including Ghana, “so what we need is to roll out policies early to halt this global trend.”
The psychologist noted that Ghana had witnessed an alarming increase in the rate of suicides in recent years because the mental health landscape does not look good and the country is losing a lot of citizens to mental health.
Dr Osafo told the DAILY HERITAGE that about 20% of adults suffer from moderate to severe psychological distress, but sadly, mental health is not taken seriously in the country for proper examination and fixing of the problem.
He said these on the sidelines of the launch of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Department of Psychology of the University of Ghana, Legon.
He said there was the need for psychologists to help reduce the rate of mental illness in the country.
“Ghana, as we speak, does not have policies on mental health prevention,” but according to the International Association of Suicide Prevention, every member country should have mental health prevention policies.
“What we, as a nation, need to do is to encourage the government to keep hiring and making incentives very attractive so that those who are hired as psychologists will stay,” he stated.
Speaking on the anniversary launch on the theme ‘University of Ghana Psychology Department in Retrospect; Successes, Challenges and Prospects,’ the Head of Department at the Psychology Department of the university, Dr Maxwell Assumeng, said since the establishment of the university in 1948, the role of psychology and its practical essence had remained relevant to the socio-economic and political development of Ghana.
Dr Assumeng said not many Ghanaians were familiar with psychology, with people having misconceptions about the role of psychologists being mind readers, but in actual fact psychology goes beyond mind reading.
He stated that the goals of psychology are to understand, explain, predict and control human behaviour in all endeavours – social and community settings, health, education, crime and legal settings.
He lamented that for the past 50 years, the department could not boast even a bus to convey students to practical sites for research. The department does not even have a staff common room for staff to go there for coffee break.
He called for support from corporate Ghana to enhance psychology development in the country.
The Dean of the Social Science Department, Prof. Charity S. Akotia, said psychology cuts across all sectors of the economy, adding that employers must employ professional psychologists to help them in recruiting employees, embark on job training, provide counselling in the health sector and monitor behaviour, policy evaluation and poverty reducing strategy.
A three-month long activities have been scheduled to mark the anniversary, including lecture series, interaction with both state and private institutions, health screening/blood donations, press briefing, alumni day, fun games, fundraising and a host of other activities.