Short Report on the 3rd Mental Health Public Speaking Competition
which took place on the 25th of November,2013 on KNUST campus.
For a very long time now, mental health has not been given the attention it needs. This baffles my mind especially as according to WHO, 1 in 4 people experience some form of mental disorder during their lifetime. To think that we as a nation can be palpably silent and unconcerned about the plight of the vulnerable is to say the least, mind boggling. We need a radical change in our general attitutude towards mental health.
It is in this light that l commend the Association of Ghanaian Professionls living in Ireland(AGPI), St. Patrick's University Hospital and the St. John of God Hospital for their remarkable efforts in creating awareness on mental health in Ghana through the organization of the annual inter-medical school mental health public speaking competition.
Following our victory in the last edition of this program, we were tasked with one objective by our Dean i.e Retaining the trophy.
As such , a lot of effort was put into ensuring that our team was more than adequately prepared for this year's comletition. This included a full sponsorship package from faculty for the team to attend the first ever mental health foundation conference and l must say the benefits of this conference was really evident in the content of our presentaton.
We left for Kumasi a day earlier in order to get our contestants relaxed and acclamatized to the environment. We spent the night at the Engineering guest house, KNUST during which period we rehearsed over and over again
The theme for this years competition was 'Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the current mental health care system and suggest improvements or propose a new mental health model if you think the current one is not good enough' The venue for this year's program was the Central Classroom Block(CCB) auditorium of the college of sciences.
The chairperson for the program was the provost of the college of health sciences. Panel of Judges included Professor J.B. Asare( chairperson of the newly constituted mental health care board), A psychiatrist from the United States ( head of the Kintampo project) and a lecturer from the Department of Chemistry, KNUST. The dean of SMS, the chief psychiatrist, Regional Psychiatrist( Northern Region) and a representative from the Regional Health Directorate were amongst the dignitries who graced the occasion
We arrived at the venue and immediately proceeded to ballot in order to determine the order of presentation.
UGMS, UDSSMS, UCCSMS and KNUST SMS was the order for the presentation.
The performance of our ladies...Abigail Naa Ayeley Harding and Araba Fordjour surpassed our expectations. They were absolutely phenomenal. Their composure, confidence, humility and control of the stage which l believe is a product of years of PBL presentations and rehearsals was nothing short of excellent. They really made us proud.
Just like UCCs performance in the last edition of the program, the difference between the presentations of UCCSMS and the others was clear. I must admit, the other schools have improved following last year's shocker performance we gave them, but they still have some way to go on the evidence of what Team Abigail and Araba did.
The difference in performance was highlighted in the results declared:
Yes!! A 33-point gap!! OMG!! Absolutely amazing.
Our students get to undertake a fully sponsored elective placement in Psychiatry at the St. Patricks University Hospital, Dublin,Ireland for emerging winners of this noble competition.
The beauty of their performance was admired by all. The clarity of thought, depth of knowlegde on the theme and systematic organization of the sequence of ideas was applauded by all.
Professor J.B Asare could not have better described the performance..when he said," Congrats, UCCSMS, u made our work too easy for us. We had no problem declaring you winners. You were too good. The others..."
The way forward
As we deservedly bask in the glory of our victory, let us focus a little effort in planning for next year's event which l am reliably informed will be hosted by the University of Cape Coast SMS. This competition has the enormous potential to put our name out there on the world map. It is my believe that our success for next year's program should not only be measured by our winning of the competition which l believe we will but on a very successful organization of the program.
For the last 2 editions of the program which l have been a part of, l have observed a low turn-out of students at the event. The auditoriums are hardly full. This is not best especially as we aim to create awareness on mental health. This is something we can easily make right. We can also do well to publicize this event more and even add a project such as a donation or awareness creation as part of next year's competition.
Having been a member of this school, l have no doubt that Deans office will more than successfully organize next year's program.
Congratulations UCCSMS!! Well done
Nana Kissi Atefah( Previous winner and beneficiary of event)