Stakeholders have been told to contribute their quota in strengthening mental health literacy among the deaf population.
Dr Wisdom Kwadwo Mprah , Senior Lecturer, Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, Department of Health Promotion and Disability of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), indicated that mental health literacy was necessary to help the deaf assess themselves.
That, he said, could be achieved through formal non-residential training programs.
Dr Mprah was presenting findings of a general study done by the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) in 2021.
The study which had a population of 487 participants comprised members of GNAD, Mental health professionals, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and deaf persons with mental health conditions and their caregivers.
The research dubbed “Empower Deaf People for Improved Mental Health (ENDEIMH) was done in the Northern, Central, Upper West and Greater Accra Regions.
It was supported by Ghana Somubi Dwumadie ,funded by the UKAID with Options’ led Consortium as its implementing partner.
Dr Mprah who is also the Principal Investigator of the study, indicated that knowledge of key mental health terminologies among respondents was very low.
He said the communication needs of the deaf could relate psychosocial issues and at the same time limit their access to care thus their challenge must be made a priority.
To enhance capacity of care givers, he noted that caregivers must be economically empowered because the cost of mental health care was very high, adding that they must benefit from the District Assembly Common Fund for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
The principal investigator also recommended that, GNAD must advocate legislations and policies to protect the deaf with mental health conditions from discrimination and stigmatization from the general society especially at workplaces.
For his part, Mr Matthew Kubachua, National President of GNAD said the study was aimed at gathering evidence- based information on the barriers and challenges deaf people faced when accessing mental health services.
He said it also advocated for Government’s commitment and support to enhance policy in favour of mental services for the deaf community.
Dr Agnes Anane, Deputy Director, Clinical Care Unit of the Regional Health Directorate, entreated particularly, religious bodies to step in the campaign to eradicate stigmatization against the deaf with mental health conditions.
She said it was noteworthy that all hospitals set up Mental Health Units with sign language interpreters to aid equal health care for the deaf.
Dr Anane further said that the directorate was putting measures together to extend the duration of sign language studies from six months to one year in training schools to better prepare students to meet the health care needs of all.