TACKLING MENTAL HEALTH TO BATTLE DRUG ABUSE

It has been proven that poor mental health can lead to drug abuse if not managed properly and given the necessary attention.

Many people battling mental health issues, especially depression, end up finding solace in drugs which they eventually get addicted to, making their situation worst.

For this matter, there is the need for authorities to pay critical attention to persons going through problems relating to mental health.

However, in our part of the world, mental health issues are often disregarded until matters get out of hand.

Some members of the public remain oblivious about the fact that mental illness could be cured and rather dwell on misconceptions that the ailment is spiritual.

This strange belief that mental illness is spiritual make some sufferers of the ailment end up in prayer camps or on the streets after they have been abandoned.

Others who find themselves lucky enough to be sent for medical attention also sometimes suffer discrimination from family members and the society at large, due to their history.

Unfair treatment of recovered mentally challenged persons by some members of the communities they live in also contributes greatly to depression.

It is advisable that awareness on mental health issues is highly increased in the country, especially in the rural areas.

This increases chances for early intervention, which can also result in fast recovery.

When many people find out that mental illness could be treated successfully, especially when detected early, discrimination against people fighting the condition will drastically reduce.

Also, when people become well informed about the ailment, they could easily identify symptoms even at early stages and seek help and support for whoever they suspect might be going through any form of mental illness.

FINDING SOLACE IN DRUGS

There are quite a high number of people who have found themselves in the struggle to stop substance abuse after finding comfort in the menace as a result of depression.

People sometimes resort to drugs to cope with difficult emotional issues or to temporarily take their minds off problems they might be facing.

According to reports by the American Medical Association, roughly 50 per cent of persons with severe mental health disorders are affected by substance abuse.

Also, the research revealed that 37 per cent of alcohol abusers and 53 per cent of drug abusers have at least one severe mental illness.

Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, the research showed that 29 per cent abuse alcohol or drugs.

This shows that when mental health issues are prioritized, it will go a long way in reducing drug abuse among the populace.

It has become obvious that the battle against drug abuse in the country cannot be won easily without paying critical attention to mental illness.

PROVISION OF ADEQUATE RESOURCES TO MANAGE MENTAL HEALTH FACILITIES

Resources must be always made available for mental health facilities to operate smoothly and to be able to reach out to as many sufferers of mental illness as possible.

In Ghana, it is very common to find mentally ill people roaming the streets with some violent ones attacking by-passers due to their violent nature.

Some families also risk keeping mentally deranged persons at home and this has severally ended fatally as there are quite a number of people who have been murdered in cold blood by their violent mentally ill relatives.

In February 2016, a man suspected to be mentally deranged reportedly killed six people including his parents at Assin Akrofuom in the Central region.

The man was said to have butchered his parents, two siblings and their landlord.

Community members allegedly got hold of the mentally unstable man and lynched him.

In a related incident, a 14-year-old girl, who is a primary 4 pupil of Akyem Asafo Presbyterian Primary School in the East Akim municipality of the Eastern Region, Docia Aina Adufa met her untimely death when Yaw Akoto, a 35-year-old mentally deranged man, allegedly butchered her.

The sick man, after allegedly killing the schoolgirl, was said to have taken the body to the bush, cut it into pieces and cooked it and ate it.

In September 2019, another mentally ill man allegedly murdered a 59-year-old property owner at Tunga near Dansoman in the Ablekuma West constituency, Accra.

A nephew of the deceased, Abu Osman Mohammed, who confirmed the incident to the media revealed that the after murdering his uncle cut the body into parts and set them on fire at an uncompleted structure.

According to him, they received reports that the mad man was occupying the uncompleted property which belongs to them and was threatening the lives of residents who passed by it with a sharp machete.

These are just examples of instances where mentally sick persons who are supposed to be in health facilities receiving medical attention, are left roaming about in communities and on the streets at the detriment of others.

If health facilities are well resourced to take care of the mentally ill or if the government builds more psychiatric hospitals, such occurrences could greatly reduce.

Individuals also have various roles to play when it comes to substance abuse and mental health.

One of the simplest steps one could take in case there are any signs or symptoms of the illness in your actions is admitting you have a problem and seek help.

BY RAISSA SAMBOU

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