Government has been called upon to resource and empower the Mental Health Authority, Ghana Health Service, and the Department of Social Welfare to effectively cater for mental health patients.
This was contained in a press statement signed by Mr Peter Yaro, the Executive Director of Basic Needs Ghana, an advocacy mental health organisation, on behalf of the Alliance for Mental Health and Development, and copied to the Ghanaian Times here on Thursday as part of activities marking the 2019 World Mental Health Day.
The Alliance for Mental Health and Development, is a group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) into mental health.
According to the group, the empowerment of the public institutions and resourcing them very well would help make comprehensive psychological support available at all levels of the health system as well as in the educational institutions where some people often attempt to commit suicide.
They further underscored the need for the government to take steps to decriminalise the law on suicide attempts and rather channel resources towards its prevention.
The World Mental Health Day which is celebrated on October 10 each year, seeks to raise awareness about mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts to tackling mental issues.
The group is celebrating this year’s event under the theme, “working together to prevent suicide: a call for national action!”
The statement said a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that for every successful suicide, there are about 20 suicide attempts, and globally, 800,000 people die from suicide annually, while in Ghana, the estimates indicated that in 2015, a total of 1500 suicide cases were recorded.
“It is noted that limited information, stigma and socio-cultural taboos and values continue to prevent open and informed discourse on suicide and mental health in general. The fact remains that the impact of suicide on individuals and families by the act itself and the loss from it endure to such levels that survivors, relatives and families, friends and the community need support. Media reportage alone indicates suicide is on the rise,” it stressed.
The statement, therefore, called on all stakeholders to rise up to the challenge set up by WHO to spend at least 40 seconds to educate and support people to increase information and support, so as to help eliminate suicide and save lives.
The Alliance further called on government to implement a national policy and action plan on mental health in general and suicide prevention in particular, to guide and consolidate the concerted efforts needed to address the mental health challenges of our nation.
“The Alliance believes that such steps will significantly reduce suicide ideation, self-harm and suicide! Let’s live up to the call for the 40 seconds of action to prevent suicide. Spend 40 seconds of your time to support someone and bring him or her back from the brink,” it added.