‘Timely release budgetary allocation to Mental Health Authority’

The government has been urged to prioritise the release of budgetary allocation to the Mental Health Authority and other specialised psychiatric hospitals to improve provision of mental health care across the country.

The Alliance for Mental Health and Development, a network of NGOs in mental health advocacy, in a statement reacting to the recent incidence of a mentally challenged woman stoning a man to death at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, said the occurrence was a reflection of how mental health had been sidelined in the country.

“This unfortunate and avoidable incident could have been prevented had the state and the relevant institutions prioritised mental health and given it the needed attention it deserves,” the statement issued by the National President, Peter Badimak Yaro, said.

The Alliance expressed disappointment over the poor quality of mental health service delivery in the country despite the enactment of the Mental Health Act 2012, Act 846.

It said aside the establishment of the Mental Health Authority which had been realised under the law, other aspects which included the formation of a Mental Health Review Tribunal, Visiting Committees and a Mental Health Fund had still not seen the light of day.

“Since the passage of the Mental Health Act in 2012, there has not been funding committed to the Mental Health Fund to ensure efficient and effective mental health service delivery in Ghana. The committees that were supposed to provide critical mental health support services at the district, regional and national levels have still not been formed.

This has made mental health service delivery in the country difficult. Several efforts have been made by various CSOs, NGOs and other non-state actors using research findings and evidence such as the Investment Case for Mental Health in Ghana to inform duty bearers about the benefits of investing in mental health and the consequences of not doing so but official response has been slow.”

The Alliance, in the statement, held that a well-resourced mental health sector was key to ensuring professional evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of persons with mental health conditions in the street back to their families and communities.

It thus called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, to speedily establish the Mental Health Fund, the Mental Health Review Tribunal and Visiting Committees to change the present status quo.

It also urged the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to be mindful of their responsibility to persons with mental conditions within their catchment areas in line with section 73(4) of the Mental Health Act.

“The Mental Health Alliance is of the view that the unfortunate incident that happened on August 4, this year could have been avoided had the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance committed financial resources to the Mental Health Fund for the provision of essential support and care for persons with mental conditions,” it added.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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