Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei, has revealed that about 2.7 million people representing 10 % of the population in Ghana have mental illness.

“The everyday problems we hear about such as suicide or attempted suicide, armed robbery, wife battering, grandmother boiling the grand child in water among others: most of these, if not all of them, are really mental health issues,” he pointed out.

“If you are not afflicted yourself, you are affected in one way or the other,” he added.

The CEO of Mental Health Authority made this known during the grand durbar of World Mental Health Day in Cape Coast over the weekend.

The event, which was on the theme; “Dignity in mental health “was to emphasise the need for mental health patients to be treated well.

Dr Osei stressed that mental illness has no supernatural cause since it is just like malaria or any other illness.

He indicated that shunning mentally ill people shows that there was no dignity for them. And thus called for a change in perception and attitude to enable them adapt into society upon recovery.

He disclosed that there was a silent revolution in mental health care in the country as a lot was being done by the mental health board to change the face of mental health delivery.

“Most of what they are doing have been underground and will blossom in the next few years for all to see. Steps have been taken in collaboration with prayer camps and healing centres to stop the abuse of the rights of mental health patients,” he explained.

He hinted that a Legislative Instrument (LI) which will guide the implementation of the mental health act has been fully drafted and was before the parliamentary sub-committee on constitutional and legal affairs to hopefully pass it into law soon.

Dr Osei added that training manuals on mental acts have been developed while district mental health sub-committees will be formed to complete the process of decentralisation of mental health care in the communities.

“Visiting committees will also be formed in all ten regions to go round all places where mentally ill-patients are treated to monitor human rights issues,” he said.

“By this we shall make sure that nobody puts anybody in chains again since a mental health tribunal with that status of court will be formed to enforce the rights of mental health patients,” he added.

He also announced that by March 2016, strenuous efforts will be put into the banning of chaining of mental health patients, adding that any centre found to be doing that will face appropriate sanctions.

The CEO added that operation clean the streets will soon be launched to rid the streets of Ghana of “mad people” since out of every ten patients on the streets eight or nine will be well if sent to the hospital for treatment.

He mentioned financial difficulties, lack of medication among others as some of the challenges facing the authority and expressed the hope that the passage of the mental health law will help address these challenges.

For his part, Medical Director of Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Ekow Armaloo, disclosed that there were only 20 health facilities with services of mental health practitioners, and called for adequate staffing to decentralise mental health care in the region.

The chairman for the occasion, Daasebre Kwebu Ewusie, who is also the President of the Central Regional House of Chiefs and Paramount Chief of Abeadze Dominase Traditional Area near Mankessim, charged families not to abandon their mentally ill relations, but rather send them to the hospitals for treatment to help in nation building.

Source: Ghana/todaygh.com/FROM MAGDALENE ABROBRAH, CAPE COAST, C/R