This year’s World Mental Health Day celebrations was observed in Accra yesterday on the theme: “Dignity in mental health”.
This year’s event seeks to highlight and dignify mental health in all aspects of the society-families, communities, offices and health facilities.
Addressing a press conference, Dr. Pannaman Appau, Acting Medical Director, Accra Psychiatric Hospital underscored the need for Ghanaians to consider mental health as a disease that can affect everybody.
She noted that no “person should suffer any form of stigmatisation or discrimination against because of their mental status”, adding that discrimination, of whichever form worsened the plight of patients.
World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10 every year in more than 150 countries to create awareness and educate the people on mental illness.
She said the Mental Health Authority together with other stakeholders have established mental health wings in health facilities across the country.
Because of this development, mental patients can now access medical care in their communities, easing pressure on the three major facilities.
In 2013, the Accra Psychiatric Hospital in partnership with the police and other stakeholders, embarked on an operation “clear the streets” to rid the city of mental patients.
Currently, all the teaching health facilities including Okomfo Anokye at Kumasi in the Ashanti region, Tamale in the Northern Region and Korle-Bu in the Greater Accra Region has mental health units.
In the Eastern Region, Koforidua, have a 20-bed facility like Sunyani in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
All other regions have either community centres or mental health units within the district or regional hospitals.
According to her, the exercise, which was replicated in other regional capitals including Eastern Region, had achieved success as most patients were re-integrated with their families.
The Acting Medical Director said although some Ghanaians continued to stigmatise and discriminate against patients, the authority had made strides in terms of education intensification and outreach programmes.
Similarly, she added that collaboration with faith-based organisations and traditional healers had tremendously impacted health care.
Notwithstanding, she said the authority was poised to utilising the needed resources to enhance mental health care within the next 10 years.
Already, there were existing programmes encapsulating training, monitoring and evaluation of caregivers, geared towards ensuring the dignity and respect of the mentally challenged.
A litany of activities were expected to take place during the one week celebration- public health, open day for mental facilities, health education and talks in the communities beginning today October 13, 14 and 15.
Other activities are meeting with chiefs and traditional rulers and a visit to faith-based healing centres both in Cape Coast, grand durbar and thanks- giving church service on October 16, 17 and 18.
By Malik Sullemana & Abigail Annoh