Stakeholders advocate for quality access to mental healthcare
The Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC) and Mind Freedom Ghana in collaboration with Star Ghana have organized a two-day workshop in Takoradi for community psychiatric nurses and operators of traditional and faith-based healing centers.
The workshop, held under the theme: "Promoting quality access to mental healthcare and rights for persons with mental disabilities in traditional mental health centers in Ghana", was to promote the rights of people living with mental ill health and sensitize duty bearers on how best to discharge their duties.
The workshop discussed stigma and discrimination most especially of the “differently abled” persons who encounter series of challenges in the family, society and workplace. It also deliberated on how to curtail the dehumanizing treatments meted out to persons with mental illness when they seek orthodox treatment in health facilities and traditional centers.
Ms Cynthia Nimo – Ampredu, the Executive Director of HRAC, addressing the participants, said human rights are entitlements to everyone including the mentally disabled as dignity is inherent and cannot be violated.
"The mentally challenged persons should by no reason be rendered incapacitated since they all play a role and have the right to life, right to education and health".
"Such persons have the right to work for equal pay, fair remuneration and in a safe and healthy environment and under no circumstances should these rights be infringed upon."
Ms Nimo- Ampredu said persons with mental health challenges are to enjoy the right to work, shelter and to spend personal money for personal purchases, stressing that depriving mentally ill patients of enjoying these rights was against the law.
She said it was unjust and unfair to stigmatize and discriminate against persons with mental illness, "Stigmatization is a deeply discrediting attribute associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person which often leads to shame, blame, hopelessness and distress".
Ms Nimo-Ampredu said in many cases families of mental health patients and practitioners working in this area are also affected by this stigma.
The HRAC Executive Director said disability is an evolving concept and that about 2.8 million of Ghana’s population lived with mental illness with 650,000 suffering severe forms of mental illness.
She said persons suffering from mental illness were just like any human being suffering from a health issue such as high blood pressure but in this case, the illness affects the mind.
The participants expressed gratitude to HRAC for organizing such a programme saying the knowledge gained was helpful and would enhance their work.
Madam Mary Owusu - Manu a mental health nurse at the Takoradi hospital in an interview with Ghana News Agency appealed to the public to debunk the notion that nurses were abusive and bring patients to the hospital for treatment.
Mr Abu Osman, CEO of Smart herbal center at Beposo, said the training had helped him gain additional knowledge in his field of work and also broadened his understanding of human rights.