The government loses about $5.5 billion representing 7 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually to mental health issues, Regional Mental Health Cordinator, Mr Etornam Gblende has said.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Times as part of activities to mark the World Mental Health Day on Monday, he highlighted that treatment was available for all mental illnesses, if detected early.
“More attention and financial support should be given to the mental health sector. We must also stop the abuse of human rights, stigma and discrimination attached to persons with mental illness because it only worsens their condition,” he said.
Mr Gblende emphasised the need for more improvement in the Community Mental Care.
“As much as government supported mental issues, it is not enough, aside teaching hospitals, there are no special hospitals in the middle and northern belts even though there have been more advocacy on community care and support,” he stated.
Mr Gblende encouraged government, to find a holistic approach to recruit more psychologists into the public health facilities in the country as most of them were in private practice.
He further advised citizens, organisations and the government, to pay close attention to mental health and do their best to protect mentally-ill persons in the country.
“As a country, we need to make mental health issues a priority because, a country with a healthy and productive population increases and boost the country’s growth,” he said.
Alluding to some health issues, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Special Initiative for Mental Health Situational Assessment 2021, highlighted some challenges Ghana’s mental health care system faced even though efforts were being made at solving them.
“The distribution of mental health services is skewed toward the southern part of the country, with limited services available in the northern region,”
Also, “there are systems-level challenges in financing psychotropic medications which limits its availability and procurement,” it added.
He noted that social stigma linked to mental disorders remained prevalent and limited help-seeking, as that was not healthy for mentally challenged persons.
World Mental Health Day, marked on October 10 every year, is celebrated to draw attention to Africa’s large and growing burden of mental health conditions, with children and adolescents worst impacted.
This year’s celebration was on the theme, “Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.”
BY ANITA ANKRAH