Health News of 2014-03-07

MDGs cannot be achieved without mental health – Dr Osei

Dr Akwasi Osei, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, has painted a gloomy picture of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, as the role of mental health has not been recognized.

He said mental health runs across all the MDGs, but it has not been mentioned in any of them, although the burden of the disease was rising and would continue to rise unless there was a serious intervention to address the situation.

Dr Osei expressed these concerns when he spoke on “the situation of mental health in Ghana and how the new mental health law responds to it,” at a workshop in Wa to expose key officers of the Ghana Health Service in the Upper West region to the Mental Health Act.

The day's workshop was organized by Basic Needs- Ghana, in conjunction with its implementing partner, Centre for People’s Empowerment and Rights Initiative (CPRI) and sponsored by DFID.

The Mental Health Expert said mental depression contributed to about 14 per cent of all diseases while 75 per cent of all mental disorders in the country were adolescents.

He disclosed further that a study undertaken by the Yale University in USA and the University of Ghana among 10,000 people in Ghana in 2009 revealed that 45 per cent of all Ghanaians were living under distress.

Dr Osei described mental health as a “silent crisis,” adding that because mental illness does not kill its patients, policymakers pay little attention to it.

He said the mental health law seeks to among others, address the numerous challenges confronting mental health care in the country, decentralize mental health care services and criminalize all barbaric acts meted out to persons with mental challenges.

Dr Ephraim Avea Nsor, the Upper West Regional Minister, urged all stakeholders to use the mental health law to galvanize support to fight discrimination and all forms of stigma associated with mental health care in the country.

“Mentally challenged persons are often forgotten and left at the fringes of society. We are all in one way or the other suffering from one form of mental problem,” he said

He called for a new perspective on how to deal with the illness by showing more human feeling towards mental patients, instead of relating them to witchcraft or regarding them as being attacked by spirits and, therefore, did not deserve respect.

Mr. Fred Nantogma, Knowledge and Communications Officer of Basic Needs-Ghana, called on the general public to support in efforts to eliminate the practice of chaining, putting legs of some mental patients into logs and other forms of abuse of their rights.

He said 25,000 people directly and indirectly benefited from his organization’s mental health programme in 2013 and that plans were far advanced to pilot a mental health programme in every district.

Source: GNA
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