Health News of 2014-03-10

Suicide in Ghana attributed to mental health disorders

Dr Akwasi Osei, acting Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, has said most suicide cases in Ghana were attributable to mental disorders.

Dr Osei said this at a forum on key provisions in the Mental Health Law (Act 846) organized by Basic Needs in Bolgatanga.

He said considering the magnitude of the problem, there was the urgent need for the government to pay attention to the sector and that the situation of mental health care in the country was not the best.

Dr Osei said the situation was even worse in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions, and that these three regions had only one psychiatry doctor stationed in Tamale.

He said the major mental health facilities for serious treatment of mental health related cases were centred in Kumasi and Accra, making it difficult for psychiatric patients to access services.

He said the Brong-Ahafo and Volta regions had one psychiatrist each, Central Region, three and Eastern and Western regions has no experts.

Dr Osei expressed the hope that the passage of the Mental Health Bill would help address the shortfalls in mental health activities and that the law provided for a responsible agency to coordinate its activities.

Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams, the Regional Director of Health, said in a speech read for him that mental health was one of the major issues facing the region and attributed the problem partly to the abuse of substances including the inhaling of petrol.

He lauded Basic Needs for its support for the Regional Directorate in addressing mental health challenges and that the NGO, through mental health specialists, offered drugs to all the Districts in the region including the provision of means of transport to mental health workers to deliver services.

The Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, My Daniel Syme, pledged the government’s support in tackling mental health problems.

The Executive Director of Basic Needs, Mr. Badimak Peter Yaro, said his outfit viewed mental illness issues very important and that explained why it had been advocating and championing the issue for almost a decade.

He said Basic Needs played very significant roles in the passage of the Mental Health Bill by Parliament and added that it had in addition empowered mental health persons by partnering with the Ghana Health Service to treat them.