MHA worried over increasing cases of Schizophrenia …8,446 persons diagnosed of condition

The Mental Health Authority (MHA) has expressed concern over the rising cases of Schizophrenia in the country.

It said by the end of the first quarter this year, 8,446 persons have been diagnosed of the condition, with the country recording an increasing trend of the disease over the last five years.

“As at 2020, 19,856 persons were presented with the disease. This increased to 20,755 in 2021 and further to 24,790 by the end of 2022 and this should be a concerning matter to all of us,” the chairperson of the MHA Governing Board, Mrs Estelle Appiah, indicated.

She was speaking on the occasion of World Schizophrenia Day in Accra on the theme; “Celebrating the Power of Community Kindness.”

Schizophrenia, a mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly, is often characterised by the expression of thoughts or experiences that seem out of touch with reality.

Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, experts are of the view that a combination of biological, environmental factors and life stresses significantly played a role in getting the ailment.

MrsAppiah indicated that although treatment for schizophrenia was available, the fear of stigmatisation and discrimination prevented persons suffering from the condition from seeking professional help, hence most ending up on the streets.

“The numbers we see on our streets speak for themselves and potentially presents a health and security risk for all of us and we must as a nation begin to pay attention to this condition,” she said.

The Legislative Counsel, while stressing the need for Ghanaians to uphold the rights of mentally ill persons reiterated that the ban on chaining and shackling of persons living with mental illness was still in force.

She urged members of the public, corporate institutions, the government and all other stakeholders to support awareness creation on schizophrenia and other mental health conditions.

“Our major obstacle in mental healthcare is funding and we must collaborate to remove this burden and create an all-inclusive society,” she urged.

The Chief Executive Officer of the MHA, DrPinamanAppau, said the increasing number of people suffering schizophrenia walking on the streets of Ghana was indicative of how the country had neglected mental healthcare.

She said, societal misconceptions and lack of understanding of mental health conditions continue to persist across the country, hindering appropriate care and support for affected persons.

DrAppau noted that by leveraging on “community power” where there is a culture of acceptance, understanding and support, a whole lot of progress could be made in addressing barriers against mental healthcare in the country.

“Inadequate funding, brain drain of mental health professionals, persistent stigma, discrimination and the violation of human rights including chaining and shackling are obstacles we must confront head-on.

The journey towards a more inclusive society requires a collective effort and a commitment to change,” she said.

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