Include physical activities to promote mental health – Prof. Appau

Ghanaians have been advised to increasingly include physical activities in their daily endeavours as a means of promoting their mental health.

According to the Mental Health Authority (MHA), a profound connection exists between phys­ical activity and mental wellbeing impacting on mood, stress levels and operation of the brain, among other organ functions.

“Incorporating regular physical activity into one’s routine is not only beneficial for physical health but also crucial for maintaining optimal mental wellbeing. Move­ment serves as a natural yet potent antidote to depression, anxiety and stress,” the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Professor Pinaman Appau, noted.

She was speaking at the launch of the mental health awareness month aimed at putting mental wellbeing on the front burner of Ghana’s health agenda.

The Authority has designated May as the “Purple Month” to raise awareness about mental health, while reducing “stigma, discrim­ination and other ill treatment” associated with mental illness across the country.

Akin to other initiative by mental health bodies in the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) during the month of May, the “Purple Month” has the theme; ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health.’

Prof. Appau indicated that with a population of over 2.3 million Gha­naians suffering from some form mental health disorder, it was im­portant to intensify efforts in raising public awareness and support for mental health in the country.

“Indeed mental health awareness is paramount for the holistic well­being of individuals across various dimensions of life, yet, stigma and

 lack of understanding often hinder individuals from seeking the neces­sary help, thereby diminishing their quality of life and productivity.

Purple month seeks to change that narrative by advancing mental health treatment and behavioural health education,” she maintained.

Prof. Appau further mentioned activities earmarked for the cele­bration including maternal mental health awareness creation, school mental health programme, commu­nity engagement and health walks across the country.

The wife of the Asantehene, Lady Julia Osei Tutu, launching the initiative called for open conversa­tions around mental health to demy­stify myths and misconceptions on the condition.

That, she said, could help to break down barriers including stigma and discrimination around mental illness which often prevent individuals from seeking help and accessing support.

Lady Julia lauded the designation of May as Purple Month which co­incided with celebrating women and mothers, and the need to take maternal mental health advocacy seriously.

She expressed her commitment to work with stakeholders to educate, empower and improve livelihoods of persons with mental health conditions in the country.

For her part, the Board Chairperson of the MHA, Madam Estelle Appiah, expressed concern over insufficient funding to mental health amidst other challenges including brain drain, encroachment on mental health facilities, inadequate infrastruc­ture and human right abuses in the sector.

She called for increased invest­ment for mental health “so that together we can build a Ghana where mental health is not an afterthoughts but a cornerstone of our health system, and where every individual regardless of their mental health status is treat­ed with dignity and respect.”


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