Mental Health Authority (MHA) has unveiled a new toll free number as part of measures to help persons suffering from psycho-social difficulties to access support for their ailment.
The number which is 0800678678, offers persons requiring psycho-social support, the opportunity to make free calls to mental health experts for redress to their problems.
It is the first ever dedicated line instituted to help address challenges confronting individuals with mental issues who want solutions to their problems.
Briefing the media at a ceremony to unveil the number, the board chair of the Authority, Ms Estelle Appiah, said the call centre had been one of the long-standing activities on the calendar of the authority.
She explained that a year after the establishment of the authority, the governing board initiated a drive to institute a toll-free call centre that would deal with the numerous cases of potential suicide victims, and persons who required other forms of psycho-social support, but could not readily access mental health service.
Ms Appiah said a year after planning the take-off of the project, the country was hit by a series of suicides and this was particularly among the youth.
She said as part of measures to address the spate of suicides, the authority instituted a number of measures which included some temporary help lines to provide access to people who had suicidal thoughts and other psycho-social issues.
“Since 75 calls are received weekly for psycho-social support for mental health matters on temporary help lines, management of the authority was obliged to consider a call centre.
It was decided that this needed to be a toll-free numbering resource and would put in place an urgent support system for access by the vulnerable,” she said.
Giving the background to the centre, Professor Angela Ofori-Atta, Head of the Psychology Department of the University of Ghana said 10 years ago the department decided to set up the psych corps to provide psychological help in the communities.
She said the set-up was a collaboration between Psychology Department of UG, the Psychiatric Department of the Ministry of Health, and the Yale University.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, said the call centre could not have come at a better time than this.
He noted that issues of mental health should be of concern to all, since most people suffer from one kind of mental health or the other.
Dr Osei noted that the call centre would provide the avenue for lots of people who found it difficult to access help and added that the authority would continue to push for the de-criminalisation of suicide.
BY CLIFF EKUFUL