Mental health ‘Public office holders must undergo psychological screening’

Dr. Akwasi Osei has indicated that public office holders should be made to undergo psychological evaluation.

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Chief Psychiatrist, Dr. Akwasi Osei play

Chief Psychiatrist, Dr. Akwasi Osei

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The Chief Psychiatrist of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Akwasi Osei, has suggested that public office holders should be made to undergo psychological screening to determine whether they are mentally fit to work in the interest of the country.

He said it was only psychologically sound public officers who could come up with sound policies and laws, and sign agreements needed to advance the country’s socio-economic development.

Speaking at the launch of the first anniversary commemoration of the Mental Health Board in Accra yesterday, Dr. Osei said some of the laws passed, policies and agreements signed by public officials raised questions about the mental state of such people when they were taking such decisions.

“They have to go for psychological screening to ensure that they are of sound mind. When you look at the policies, laws and international agreements, there is something not right up there,” he said.

The Mental Health Board is the governing body of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), which was established by the Mental Health Act 846 of 2012.

Activities lined up for the week-long celebration include a public lecture, launch of the Mental Health Fund, Muslim and Christian prayers and services.

Workplace psychologists

Dr. Osei, who is also the acting Chief Executive Officer of the MHA, suggested that psychologists should be employed at workplaces to offer their services to workers.

He said the psychologists could address psychological challenges facing workers and deter depressed workers from engaging in criminal acts or committing suicide.

Dr. Osei added that it was the objective of the MHA to clear all the streets in the country of mental patients within the next two years.

He revealed that nine out of 10 patients who were picked from the streets regained their sanity.

Statistics

A study conducted in 2009 showed that 41 per cent of Ghanaians had psychological distress. Nineteen per cent of the distress was moderate to severe; enough to be considered mental disorder.

The 19 per cent translates into about 4.75 million of the 25 million population. Of this figure, it is estimated that 700,000 had a major disorder, including schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions.

Dr. Osei indicated that the number of people with psychological distress constituted a great loss to the state.

“If we could prevent the 19 per cent of the population from developing this distress and disorder, we will save ourselves, as a nation, the loss of seven per cent of GDP”, he said.

Policy on alcohol

Dr. Osei indicated that the Ministry of Health was coming out with a policy to regulate the sale, advertising and use of alcohol.

He said under the policy, advertisements on alcohol will be restricted to specific points in time, whiles celebrities will not be allowed to feature in those advertisements.

Source: Graphic

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