Tribunal for safeguarding rights of mentally ill in offing

The Mental Health Authority (MHA) is set to institute a review tribunal to uphold the rights of persons suffering mental health disorders in the country.

The establishment of the tribunal, in line with the Mental Health Act 2012 (Act 846), is expected to improve general mental healthcare in the country and reduce the incidence of abuse, discrimination and inequalities against the mentally-challenged persons in the society.

The Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the MHA, Dr. Caroline Amissah, said: “Our Act mandates us to institute visiting committees all over the country to visit mental health facilities to assess the kind of care given to mentally-challenged persons but in cases where they find persons being subjected to abuse, what are the avenues for redress? So, these are some of the issues we hope the tribunal will address.

“The review tribunal is sort of a mini-court that will deal with cases bordering on mental health. So far, we have a technical working group in place to oversee and guide the work of investment in mental health. What we are waiting for now is to have our board in place so that members of the tribunal can be inaugurated to handle these cases with the exigency they need.”

DrAmissah made this known in Accra yesterday at a media launch of this year’s Mental Health Week to be marked on the theme: ‘Mental Health in an unequal world’.

The week-long celebration marked in October every year raises awareness of mental health issues around the world for the purposes of mobilizing efforts in supporting mental health delivery.

The MHA has outlined activities, including community sensitization, youth engagement and seminars countrywide, to mark the week.

The Deputy CEO reiterated the need for the government to increase financial allocation to mental health, pleading that mental healthcare must be  included in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) benefit package.

“Conclusive studies have indicated that an investment of three to four dollars per head of our population annually can go a long way to improve our mental healthcare system and this is less than one percent of total budget spent on health,” she noted.

Dr. Amissah further called on the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development to enforce the existing policy where Assemblies allocate funds to mental health.

The Deputy Director of Mental Health at the Ghana Health Service, DrAmaBoadu, expressed the commitment of her outfit to advocate reforms and improvement of mental health as a front burner issue.

She said the GHS had so far trained more than 4,000 health professionals to offer basic mental healthcare as part of efforts to decentralise the mental healthcare across the country.

Dr. Boadu backed calls for increased resources to be committed to mental health to improve the general wellbeing of the populace.

Mrs Estella Appiah, who chaired the event, called on parents and guardians to take keen interest in the mental health of their children following a UNICEF report of increased number of children suffering mental illness as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The pandemic has increased anxiety and depression among other conditions in children, which could linger on for a lifetime so parents must begin to closely monitor their children as they grow. Talk to them, be interested in their mood swings and behaviours so we can pick early signals and get solutions in time,” she advised.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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