Former Chief Psychiatrist advocates Mental Health Board

The Accra Psychiatric HospitalProfessor Joseph Bediako Asare, Former Chief Psychiatrist has called for the establishment of a Mental Health Board which would oversee the implementation of the Mental Act that was passed in May.

He said there are so many issues under the mental health system persisting hence the need to ensure that the Board is in place to address them to improve mental health.

Prof Asare made the call when addressing participants at a Ghana WHO/Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (AIMS) Mental health survey programme in Accra on Tuesday.

The survey was undertaken earlier this year using 2011 data on the provisions of mental health services in Ghana under the Kintampo Project, a project that seeks to improve mental health in Ghana and founded by Dr Mark Roberts, a Lead Partner from UK.

Ghana is among 42 low, middle and upper income countries in the world which were selected under the WHO programme for the survey.

Among the findings of the survey were that current funding for mental health services is inadequate whilst most services are provided through three large hospitals in Accra and Cape Coast.

Few services provided outside the capital are mostly provided by nurses and few generalist doctors as psychiatrists.

The research revealed that 49 out of every 50 people with mental health problems do not receive any treatment, while there were hardly any services for children. Also traditional and faith based healers were found to be major support of mental health services provision.

The findings revealed that 725,000 people out of the 24.1 million people in Ghana are suffering from severe mental disorder whilst 2,410,000 are suffering from a mild or moderate mental disorder.

Prof Asare, who is also part of the research team urged Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service to commission a team to produce and implement plans of action of the Act based on best practices.

Dr Akwasi Osei, Chief Psychiatrist, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, explained that the Mental Health Board, a governing body to oversee the implementation of the Mental Health Acts is expected to be established by middle of November.

He said the Board which would consist of representatives from the Attorney General’s Department, Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, among other organisations is to ensure that Act is implemented in totality.

He said all the findings in the survey had been captured under the new mental bill acts and expressed the hope that those issues would be addressed accordingly.

Source: GNA

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