Ghana yesterday joined the rest of the world to mark World Mental Health Day (WMHD) with a call on government to prioritise investment in mental health to enable the Mental Health Authority (MHA) deliver on its mandate.
The Alliance for Mental Health and Development (Mental Health Alliance), a network of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs), who made the call, said thelow investment in mental health continued to increase the burden of mental ill health and posed serious consequences for the country’s socio-economic development.
“The Mental Health Alliance considers the long delays in implementing key provisions of the Mental Health Act 2012, Act 846 to enhance the rights of persons with conditions as troubling,” a statement issued to mark the day, stated.
On the theme, ‘Making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority,’ this year’s WMHD serves as a reminder that after nearly three years, the social isolation, fear of disease, death and strained socio-economic circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to an estimated 25 percent global rise in depression and anxiety.
Inadequate financing, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) remains the biggest limitation to mental health negatively impacting efforts to sustain advocacy and drive on that aspect of human health.
According to the Mental Health Alliance, Ghana as part of many African countries, has experienced worst economic recession in morethan 50 years in 2020 due to the COVID–19 pandemic with gross domestic product (GDP) declining by 2.1 percent.
“COVID-19 had debilitating effect on people’s mental health and wellbeing. The impact was worse for persons with mental health conditions and their primary caregivers and this lingers on. This among others, include increase in loneliness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, harmful alcohol,and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour.”
The Alliance observed that despite the enormity of mental illness in the country, Ghana spends just 1.4 percent of its total government health expenditure on mental health.
This years’ WMHD, it said, afforded the country the “unique opportunity to revisit our mental health policy, and Mental Health Act 2012, Act 846 which provides equal opportunity for everyone to enjoy mental health and to exercise their human rights.”
The Alliance called on the board of the MHA to expedite action on the establishment of the Mental Health review tribunal, the regional visiting committees and prioritise including mental health onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Marked every October 10, WMHDis to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health.
The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work and what more needs to be done to make mental healthcare a reality for people worldwide.
Currently, about 10 percent of Ghana’s population, 10 out of every 100 persons, have one form of mental disorder or another.
Of the country’s 31 million estimated, about 3.1 million had mental disorders with a rapid assessment by the MHA in 2021 establishing that, 16,000 people in the streets of cities, towns and villages all over the country suffered severe mental illness.
Forty-one percent of Ghanaians according to the MHA had psychological distress- mild, moderate or severe – and this, costs the nation seven per cent of GDP loss.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH