NGO to deepen awareness on mental health

BasicNeeds Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, is working to end the suffering of mentally ill persons, through a platform dubbed: “community durbar” to create awareness on the need for people to pay attention to mental health.

The community durbar is part of activities lined up to commemorate this year’s Mental Health Day, which is celebrated on October 10 each year by the World Health Organisation.

Mr Peter Badimak Yaro, Executive Director of BasicNeeds Ghana said the durbar would educate families and communities on the need to take mental health issues seriously, and maintain healthy lifestyles as well.

A statement issued in Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency quoted Mr Yaro as saying public education on mental health would help minimise the incidence of mental disorders in families and communities.

The theme for the Day is: “Mental Health and Older Adults,” while Ghana is marking the event on the theme: “Mental Health and the Place of Our Aged in Service Provision and Social Care.”

Health experts say the stigma attached to mental illness is deepening, with more than 450 million people globally being affected with some kind of mental disorder.

People with mental illness experience widespread stigma and discrimination, suffer violence and abuse, find it harder to get work or education, or contribute to their families and communities.

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Health, has called for community sensitisation campaigns, to create public awareness that mental disorders are preventable and treatable.

She said during the Day, public education would encourage families to take better care of their relatives with mental challenges.

BasicNeeds-Ghana, Mental Health Society, and Mental Health Foundation of Ghana, have called on government and civil society groups to initiate activities for better healthcare and treatment for the aged and vulnerable groups.

In Ghana, mental health care is based in the south, and psychiatric service in the north is almost non-existent.

There are only a few beds in regional hospitals, but no psychiatrists to treat the patients, with only a few psychiatric nurses to care for them.

Dr Kwesi Osei, Chief Psychiatrist of the Mental Health Authority, has asked government to establish a Mental Health Board, to ensure the implementation of the new Mental Health Law enacted last year.

He explained that under the new Mental Health Law, the current mental health practice is illegal, and for that matter, anybody could take legal action against mental health workers.

But Ms Ayittey has disclosed members to serve on the proposed Mental Health Board, have been submitted to the President for consideration.

She expressed the hope that members of the Board would be inducted before the end of the year.

Source: GNA

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