WHO Special initiative to redefine Ghana’s mental healthcare

The World Health Organization (WHO) establishment of the Director General’s Special Initiative for Mental Health (DG-SIMH) in Ghana is expected to redefine and address gaps in the country’s mental healthcare delivery.

The five-year initiative supported by the Government of Norway seeks to get 100 million more people to have access to quality and affordable mental health in 12 countries around the world.

The vision of the initiative is to ensure that all people in the target population in the selected countries achieve the highest standard of mental health and well-being.

This was in a statement signed by Mr Ibrahim Suhuyini Sayibu, the Communications Officer, WHO Ghana,copied to the Ghana News Agency at an inception meeting for the initiative in the Western North Region of Ghana.

Ahead of the implementation in Ghana, WHO helped Ghana to develop a national implementation plan and is currently assisting the country’s six new regions in the development of their regional plans towards effective implementation.

Dr Joana Ansong, WHO Noncommunicable Diseases and Risk Factors Officer, Ghana, said, “We recognize the important role of stakeholders in the implementation of this initiative.”

“That is why we want the regions to map out their implementation strategies so they can own the process and strengthen partnerships to achieve universal health coverage for mental health.”

Ghana launched the initiative in July 2022 and is expected to start implementation in the third quarter of 2022.

It will span five years with the aim of improving access to integrated, quality person-centered mental health care for an additional 5.2 million Ghanaians.

The Initiative will advance mental health policies, advocacy, and human rights and scale up quality interventions and services for individuals with mental health conditions, including substance use and neurological disorders.

For health authorities in Ghana, this initiative is a great opportunity to strengthen the mental health system whilst mobilizing communities to create an environment devoid of stigma and abuse against people with mental health conditions.

“We need to create an environment that is conducive enough for people with mental disorders to come out and seek help at any level of the health system.”

“This special initiative is an opportunity for us to redefine mental healthcare in Ghana,”Dr. Marion Okoh-Owusu, the Western North Regional Director of Health, said.

Whilst expressing profound gratitude for the WHO Special Initiative on Mental Health, the Kyidomhene of Sefwi Wiawso Traditional Area, Nana Elluo Panyin III, underscored the critical role traditional leaders can play to help improve mental health service delivery in Ghana.

“We need to deepen collaboration between health authorities and traditional leaders to strengthen mechanisms for the protection of people with mental health conditions,” the Chief added.

The Initiative will build on the successes of other mental health interventions such as the QualityRights Initiative, which is helping to improve the quality of care and promote the human rights of people living with mental health conditions.

Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders account for more than 10 per cent of the global disease burden.

The lost productivity resulting from depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental disorders, costs the global economy $1 trillion each year.

In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75 per cent of people with mental disorders receive no treatment at all.

In Ghana, significant gaps remained, with only about two per cent of the country’s 2.3 million people living with mental health conditions receiving psychiatric treatment and support from health facilities according to WHO.

Source: GNA

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