Accra, April 27, GNA - Studies has shown that as many as about 121 million people worldwide are suffering from depression with no assurance of access to effective treatment by the year 2020.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in the year 2001, indicated that within the lifetime of a society, 25 out of every 100 people are bound to suffer from one form of mental illness, 10 out of the 100 could be victims of mental illness at any particular moment, while one out of the 10 was bound to suffer from severe mental illness.
"By that calculation, Ghana could be having about 200,000 mentally ill patients on its hands including 2,000 severe mental health patients at a given moment," Dr Emmanuel Amuasakyi-Amoah, Secretary-General of the United Nation Association-Ghana, said on Thursday.
Dr Amoah gave the statistics at the launch of the Psycho Mental Health Foundation International, a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) aimed at educating the public, especially the youth on drug abuse and its implications.
The NGO, which is made up of both psychiatric and non-psychiatric health professionals, would target second cycle institutions where mental health education would be channelled through mental health clubs in schools to encourage the youth to stay away from the abuse of harmful drugs.
The statistics posed a central challenge to any effort at mental healthcare delivery in the country, since little has been done to contain the worsening problem.
Dr Amoah said rated as the second largest non-communicable disease in the world, mental health should be given much priority when budgeting so as to help to develop structures that would protect the youth from embarking on dangerous adventures with harmful drugs including cocaine, marijuana and heroine.
Dr Amoah said it was sad to note that most cases admitted in the mental hospitals were drug related of which the youth formed about 60 per cent. He noted that in spite of the various warnings against the abuse of drugs, people continued to abuse them with impunity, resulting in the current social chaos regarding armed robbery, delinquencies and rape. He said it was sad that people tended to associate mental illnesses with a curse that was unwelcome in the community, but "studies has shown that it was less likely for mental health patients to commit violence-related offences than their sane counterparts."
He called on communities to design programmes that would keep the youth busy and awake to the dangers of drug abuse and its implications on families, individuals and the nation at large, adding that mental health was not an individual problem but a global issue.
Dr Gladys Norley Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health, who performed the launching, said mental health issues had always received little attention throughout the world, leading to under-investment by governments and stigmatisation by societies.
She said there was the urgent need to attack issues of mental health from a multi-sectoral direction to help to mobilise maximum support in terms of finance, infrastructural development and intensified education to promote good mental health in the country.
She commended the NGO for the initiative and pledged the Ministry's support towards the battle against drug abuse among the youth in the country.
The Deputy Minister, who also swore-in the executives of the NGO, urged them to design programmes that would keep the youth busy and endeavour to work in closer collaboration with other agencies to achieve the same vision to attain a common goal.
Mr David Macualey, President of the Psychiatric Nurses Association and also President of the NGO, said the Organisation would closely link up with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ghana Education Service and the Mental Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service to help to address issues on mental health.
He stated that promoting good mental health among the youth was a difficult task, which needed support by all stakeholders as drug abuse brought about social insecurity. He said the Organisation would work hard to help reduce the rate of drug related mental ill health among the youth.