Ghana loses seven per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually due to mental health disorders, translating into about $5billion for last year alone, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Dr Caroline Amissah,has disclosed.
She has therefore called for issues of mental health to be given the needed attention it required in order to help reverse the trend.
“We already know from a Ghanaian study that loss to GDP because of mental health consequences is estimated around 7 per cent. That is not all, global estimates of the burden of mental health disability are quiet significant,” she emphasised.
Dr Amissah disclosed this at a seminar organised by the Mental Health Authority (MHA) as part of activities to commemorate this year’s celebration of the World Mental Health Day.
The global theme for this year’s celebration is Mental Health in an unequal world, with the local theme being ‘the state of mental health in Ghana: Realigning resource allocation.’
Addressing participants,Dr Amissah said globally, mental disorders accounted for 32per cent of years of disability and 13per cent of disability adjusted life years.
“In the same vein, in sub Saharan Africa, mental disorders and substance abuse is estimated to hover around 19per cent of the disability-related disease burden,” she emphasised.
She said research in mental health had had unequal attention constituting about four per cent of health research.
The situation, she explained, had impacted the present estimation of national prevalence of mental disorders, stressing that “That notwithstanding, there are suggestions of high prevalence of mental disorders with associated high treatment gaps above 90per cent.”
Dr Amissah said the worrying implications of the poor research situation were that people with mental disorders showed a high degree of co-morbidity with some diseases, resulting in a shortened life expectancy.
“Furthermore, there is enough evidence that point to health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and morbid obesity as risk factors for mental disorders like depression. We have also been told that no less than an estimated 3.1million people of our population, that’s approximately 10per cent of our population are experiencing varying degrees of mental health difficulties,” she stressed.
She said the overall implications of these statistics are that there is a significant health burden for individuals, families, Communities, and Ghana as a country.
Dr Amissah said the burden of mental disorders had fire socio-political consequences, adding that “it is inundated with financial, operational, and logistical challenges including lack of essential medication, inadequate infrastructure, and low numbers of professional among others.”
She said with support from government and our donor partners, there has been some improvement in the system despite the gloomy picture that we see.
BY CLIFF EKUFUL