Govt urged to invest in mental health care

A mental health advocate, Mr Lukeman Tahiru, has called on government to invest in mental health delivery to ensure that the right infrastructure and logistics were provided for the improvement of mental healthcare in the country.

The Chief Executive Officer of Ideapath Consult, a research and advocacy group in the Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region, lamented the absence of dedicated facilities for admitting and treating mental health patients in the Upper West and Savannah Regions and said it did not help in promoting the mental health of residents of the two regions.

The CEO believed that the situation of mental health patients would improve and treatment would be consistent if they were detained in a dedicated facility and constantly attended to as it happened at facilities in other regions such as the Accra Psychiatric hospital in the Greater Accra Region.

Mr Tahiru made this known to the Ghanaian Times at Wa yesterday in an interview on the state of mental health in the region.

He mentioned that many people in the region, particularly rural areas did not have the wherewithal to take sick family members for treatment in other regions where the facilities existed hence left them to roam the streets with no particular care for them.

“The situation is becoming dire in the Upper West Region where mentally challenged persons are forced to live on the streets because they have no facilities to contain them, and their families do not want to keep them at home;their lives are constantly threatened and they continue to be nuisance to residents,” he said.

He made an appeal to government and stakeholders to commit to resourcing the mental health unit at the Wa Municipal Hospital and others across the region.

“Mental health is a least-discussed subject in Ghanaian culture and when it comes up for discussion, the focus of the discussion did not raise awareness, foster advocacy or lead to significant change,” he said.

Mr Tahiru stressed that the 1.4 percent of the total health budget which was allotted to mental health issues by government reflected the limited significance attached to mental health issues in the country as he described the amount as woefully inadequate to substantially support the huge demand of the sector.

This he said had led to poorly resourced mental health facilities across the country as well as understaffing and inconsistent supply of drugs and other logistics to mental health facilities.

“When more people understand the importance of protecting their mental wellbeing as a people, they will demand changes in the health policies of the country and this will enable them to understand and accept that mental illness was not communicable in order to halt the stigma against persons with such conditions,” he said.

He appealed to religious leaders and other stakeholders to join forces in promoting mental health issues by calling on schools to provide regular counselling to students as well as religious heads to focus on the mental wellbeing of its members so that they were saved from issues such as depression and anxiety, among others.


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