BY PHILIP ANTOH | firstname.lastname@example.org
THE CHIEF Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, has revealed that plans are underway to demolish the Accra Psychiatric Hospital for a new ultra-modern facility.
According to Dr Osei, the current living conditions of patients at the facility were below world standard, hence the need to expand the facility.
He said as part of the project, a 50-bed psychiatric hospital each would be built in the middle and northern belts to cater for the chunk of people who have to move all the way from these two sectors of the country to the southern part of the country to access mental health.
He made these statements at a stakeholders’ meeting in Accra on the theme: ‘Carving the Ideal Mental Health Journey through Strategic Partnerships,’ which was organised by the Mental Health Authority in collaboration with Johnson and Johnson, a pharmaceutical and cosmetic company.
Speaking on the state of mental health in Ghana, the CEO called for the speedy passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI) that would help in the smooth implementation of the Mental Health Act in the country.
Dr Osei said about 41% of Ghanaians had one form of psychological distress or another, which contributes to 7% of GDP loss, adding that 40% of all hospital cases were related to some form of mental issues.
He called for the reconstitution of the Governing Council of the Mental Health Board, as there had not been one in place for the past two years and called for the establishment of a mental health levy and the appointment of district mental health coordinators.
The wife of the Vice-President, Mrs Samira Bawumia, who was the special guest of honour at the event, called for a collaborative effort to tackle mental health issues.
According to Mrs Bawumia, mental health is not only a challenge to those who suffer from mental illness but also their dependants and society at large.
“We cannot be unconcerned and we need to act now. As a nation, it is imperative that we make mental health care a priority,” she stressed, and called for awareness creation on mental health and care.
The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Aaron Oquaye, gave the assurance that Parliament would pass the LI that would see to the implementation of the Mental Health Act.
Ghana’s Mental Health Bill was passed by Parliament into law in 2012 (Mental Health Act 2012 (Act 846) but it lacks the necessary LI for its smooth implementation to help remove human rights barriers associated with the treatment and upkeep of persons with mental illness.
Thus, in the absence of the LI, the proposed Mental Health Levy has not been operationalised, as well as the formation of the board for the Mental Health Authority.
But, Speaker Oquaye, speaking at the mental health stakeholders’ meeting, observed the urgent need for better care for people with mental health conditions and pledged his support to facilitate the passage of the LI.
Stakeholders at the meeting included heads of public mental health institutions, representatives of non-governmental and civil society organisations.
Care for patients
The Country Manager of Johnson and Johnson, Ms Priscilla Owusu-Sekyere, said Janssen Ghana, a pharmaceutical body of Johnson and Johnson, was fostering mental health partnerships to ensure that no patient was left behind.
Ms Owusu-Sekyere said Janssen is currently leading efforts at transforming mental healthcare by raising awareness, reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, building the capacity of healthcare professionals and improving access to healthcare.
She added that Janssen had so far sponsored 18 students to undergo a year’s training in mental healthcare delivery and improving access to healthcare.