Ensure comprehensive implementation of initiatives for PWDs – Mental Health NGOs

Mental health non-governmental organisations(NGOs) have proposed that the government ensures a more comprehensive application of initiatives designed to improve the situation of people with disabilities, including the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty(LEAP)programme.

This was made known at the national dissemination meeting on the submission of the NGOs joint shadow report on issues of mental health and rights of persons with psychological disabilities in the country under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), organised by the MindFreedom Ghana (MFGh).

In a presentation on the report in Accra yesterday, Ms Wendy Abbey, Lead Facilitator, National Consultations and Drafting Process of the report, explained that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ministry of Local Government and the Mental Health Authority (MHA) should review and make the multi-stakeholder district welfare committees transparent and inclusive.

That, she said was for “effective integration, identification, capturing and enrolment of persons with mental health illness onto the LEAP programme.”

Ms Abbey indicated that these stakeholders were also to raise awareness on the existence of the LEAP programme as a poverty reduction mechanism for households and individuals suffering from severe mental health conditions.

The Lead Facilitator said the report also recommended that the government prevented, investigated and prosecuted inhumane treatment in prayer camps or witch camps and psychiatric hospitals.

“Address societal attitudes condoning such violations and abuses of rights of persons with mental disabilities,” she added.

Regarding the support for the recommendations, Ms Abbey stressed the need for state agencies to treat the recommendations as urgent by engaging in wide consultations with partners and stakeholders at all levels.

She said there was also the need for capacity building for persons with lived experiences and caregivers’ active participation in monitoring compliance.

“Adoption of evidence-based, innovative and people-centered approaches,” she added.

The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, in a speech read on his behalf commended the NGOs for the continuous effort in ensuring the prioritisation of mental health and national development response.

He similarly encouraged the government to ensure the full implementation of the provisions on the rights of persons with mental disorders envisioned in the Mental Health Act of 2012.

“Take urgent steps to locus on mental health interventions for children and adolescents and to improve their access to mental health services,” he stated.

“Encourage young people to break the silence around mental illness and to help them contribute to health programmes and plans,” he added.

Prof. Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), MHA, emphasised that the Authority was bent on delivering its mandate including safeguarding human rights across the country.

He said the country had done well in mental health issues but was only financially handicapped in arresting its challenges.

BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR

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