Health News Wed, 28 Jul 2021

Sexually abused children can develop mental health disorders - Dr Ekremet

Dr. Peggy Ekremet, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Specialist, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, says sexually abused children can suffer diminished mental health.

She said many girls who had been internalized were traumatized as they suffered anxiety which resulted in mental disorders such as mental retardation, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADH) disorder.

Dr. Ekremet in an interview with the Ghana News Agency she said, boys who had been externalized became aggressive and those abused physically could suffer from mental disorders.

She said many children did not discuss their trauma with their parents early which could lead to serious mental health disorders.

“Dr. Kusi Mensah and other psychiatrists at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital had conducted a study on child mental health in some schools in Kumasi and the overall prevalence rate was 7.25%.

“Children with depression was 1.31 percent, children with anxiety 1 percent, ADH was 1.64 percent, conduct disorder was 1.8 percent, intellectual disability, 1 percent, and epilepsy was 1 percent,” she said.

According to the studies, there is a greater overall prevalence rate in public schools which was 11.6 percent, and in private schools were 0.6 percent.

The study also exposed that poverty could stress children up and could eventually lead to mental health disorders.

Dr. Ekremet stated that ailments in pregnancy, lack of oxygen, severe jaundice, chronic malnutrition, intellectual disability, depression, anxiety, and epilepsy were some causes of child mental health disorder.

The specialist mentioned that conduct disorder, epilepsy from family, depression, anxiety, intellectual retardation and other environmental change of child mental health could be hereditary.

She said many people presented the sickness early while others would not show up their conditions early, however, late presentation of conditions could lead to severe mental illness.

Dr. Ekremet said conduct disorders including smoking marijuana, taking tramadol, self-medication, peer pressure and truancy were all effects of child mental disorder.

“Some girls also take in hard substances like a mixture of Indian hemp, alcohol, biscuits, and toffees laced with Indian hemp and tramadol,” she said.

The specialist said children with depression, anxiety, survivors of attempted suicide (early teens), and all underlined conditions were controlled and treated.

She mentioned that the Accra Psychiatric Hospital on daily basis could treat thirty children suffering from mental retardation, and “on average 15 to 30 at the child clinic.”

Dr. Ekremet appealed to the Government to prioritize and commit to financing and strengthening mental health in the country.

She called on the public to seek help early for any mental health condition for early diagnosis and treatment.

Mental disorders among children are serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, causing distress and problems getting through the day.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that 10 percent of children and young people aged 5 to 16 years have a clinically diagnosable mental problem.

It also shows that 70 percent of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
Source: GNA