Chief Psychiatrist Presses For Mental Health Board

Chief Psychiatrist presses for Mental Health BoardThe establishment of the National Mental Health Board will help reduce the number of mentally-ill persons roaming the streets, says Dr. Akwasi Osei, Chief Psychiatrist, Mental Health Authority.

According to him, per the responsibilities of the Board to implement the provisions of the Mental Health Act, it would among other things, transform the current mental health service delivery from an institutional model to a more community-based approach with improved access to in-patient and out-patient healthcare in the communities where they live.

Dr Osei who is also the Medical Director, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, said to this effect, the President, John Dramani Mahama, should as a matter of urgency, expedite the proceedings for the establishment of the Board, to enable psychiatric hospitals to provide efficient and effective mental healthcare to patients.

Speaking to members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, at a meeting facilitated by Basic Needs-Ghana a non-governmental organisation which advocates the rights of persons with mental illness, he explained that, the formation of the Board would pave way for the full implementation of the Mental Health Law.

“Now, the whole responsibility of establishing the Board lies on the shoulders of the President. He needs to be made aware that without the Board, the provisions of the law cannot be implemented and without implementing the law, mental health will remain in its status quo,” he added.

Dr Osei also said the establishment of the Board would ensure the operationalisation of the Mental Health Fund, which would cater for financial problems in the mental healthcare sector.

The Executive Director of BasicNeeds-Ghana, Peter Yaro Badimak, said persons with mental health problems also had rights which needed to be respected.

He said it was imperative that, the Board be inaugurated as soon as possible to enable members to mainstream mental healthcare into the healthcare delivery system.

“It seems the implementation of the law has stalled, hence, any infrastructure or resource that needs to be put in place to ensure that it is passed should be made available as quickly as possible,” he said. Mr. Badimak urged the Members of Parliament not to hesitate in approving the Legislative Instrument on Mental Health when it is laid before it.

The Chairman of the Select Committee and Member of Parliament for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh Chireh, assured that the President would be duly informed of the need to institute the Board as early as possible.

He however, noted that the President might not be the only problem as he did not take decisions all by himself.  By Lucy Pomaa Arthur

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