Government to increase mental health budgetary allocation

The Deputy Minister of Health, Rojo Mettle-Nunoo on Monday said government would increase budgetary allocation to promote mental health care and build capacity of nurses to identify the signs of depression and treat it on time.

Speaking at the opening of the West African College of Nursing (WACN) trainer of trainees workshop on the theme: “Reducing Stigma and Discrimination in Mental Illness,” he asked whether the institute identifies such signs as core aspects in its curriculum.

According to him, one of the best ways of addressing stigma and re- integrate patients back in society is through community psychiatry, which is being practised in some developed countries where patients go to clinics for consultations and go back home.

He said all hands should be on deck to fight stigma because every individual had the potential to be a mental patient.

Mr Mettle-Nunoo said some of the stress he had personally identified included urban, marriage, divorce, single parenting and road traffic issues and noted that if these challenges were not managed properly they could result in mental illness.

He called for fruitful deliberation and asked the nurses to invite other partners such as those in education and civil society to be part of such workshops so that the information shared would spread.

The Executive Secretary of WACN, Mr Solomon Adeleye noted that such workshops were aimed at upgrading the knowledge in the practice of nursing and keep them abreast of the progress and opportunities in the sub-region.

Stigma and discrimination, according to him, are the greatest barriers to patients who want to access mental care as well as health professionals.

Chief Nursing Officer of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Mr George Kumi Kyeremeh, noted that stigma resulting from mental illness could increase the likelihood of the relapse of patient’s.

He said the effect of stigma on patients have economic dimensions, which could cause problems on the job market.

The importance of stigma reduction in formulating and implementing realistic intervention could therefore not be overemphasised.

Dr Diana Baah-Odoom, Deputy Director of Clinical Services and Development of the GHS, who chaired the function, said health care professional should first understand mental health.

She said health professionals often stigmatise their colleagues in mental health and noted that there is the need to address the issue to make care more accessible to patients.

“There is nothing shameful about mental illness,” she said.

In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Peter Yaro, Country Director of the non-governmental organisation, Basic Needs, co-sponsors of the workshop, said personnel of the body had not been spared the stigma because it had chosen to work in the area of mental health.

He said stigma could undermine productivity in developing countries if nothing is done about it and bemoaned the woefully inadequate budgetary allocation given to mental health.

Mr Yaro said the right approach to treatment and care could assist mental patients to return to normal life.

Source: GNA

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