The 2010 population census report is said to have revealed that more than 2.4 million Ghanaians, representing about 10 per cent of the population are suffering from mental illness.
The Executive Director of Basic Needs, Mr. Badimak Peter Yaro, who disclosed this in an interview during a seminar for regional teams on strengthening integration of mental health into primary health care indicated that the rate must be a worry to stakeholders.
He said the country reached this point because the needed attention had not been given to mental health care delivery.
The Times finds the revelation alarming, and agrees with Mr. Yaro that the issue of mental health care should be of great concern to all stakeholders especially the government because it affects human resource and the quality of life.
The dire state of our mental health institutions, low level of staffing, underfunding and low morale among professionals is the bane of our mental health care system in Ghana.
One other factor is the ignorance around mental health issues and people who are affected by it. Mentally ill patients are not confident to discuss their mental health issues with families or friends or seek professional help for fear of being stigmatised.
The Times is of the strong conviction that as a society we need a change of attitude towards mentally ill people.
With the passage of the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846) and establishment of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Ghana was poised to measure up to the best in the world in mental health care delivery in the next 10 years.
The Mental Health Act was passed to address challenges hindering the development of the sector, however, a Legislative Instrument (LI) to back the operationalisation of the law to ensure the establishment of Mental Health Fund, increase in training for human resource and criminalise human rights abuses of the mentally ill, is yet to be passed.
It is our expectation that the passage of the LI by Parliament would help solve the problems confronting the mental health sector.
With the passage of the LI, the Times is confident that the Authority would secure the needed resources to help in addressing the myriad of challenges confronting mental health care system in Ghana.
It is our hope that while the government does its part, all stakeholders, particularly, corporate institutions would join the crusade in supporting the mental healthcare.