According to the Mental Health Authority, about 4 million Ghanaians, out of the estimated population of 28 million, are suffering from mild to severe mental illness, the Mental Health Authority (MHA).
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Dr. Caroline Amissah, made this disclosure at the launch of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Friends of Mental Health, on Monday in Accra at the Tang Place Hotel.
She revealed that, one in every four persons in Ghana has a mental illness.
According to her, the 4 million persons suffering from mild to severe mental disorders, includes depression, anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia, with depression and schizophrenia as the lead mental disorders in mild and severe mental disorders respectively.
Dr. Amissah said, in spite of the huge number of persons with mental disorder conditions, mental health continued to be low in the priority of health planners at all levels, especially, the government.
According to her, this was reflective in the quality and quantity of mental health services in the country, adding that poor funding, lack of adequate medication and personnel were some of the major challenges of the mental health delivery.
“Last year for instance, the government did not release any funds for mental health services, while this year the government has not provided any drugs although GH¢500,000 had been released for the various mental health facilities,” she noted.
Even though there was an allocation of GH¢3million for drugs for mental health in the budget for this year, Dr. Amissah said, the drugs were yet to be purchased. A situation forcing the authority to rely on NGOs and other partners for drugs to sustain mental patients in the country.
Challenges bedeviling the Authority according to her is that, almost all mental health inpatient beds were located in the only three mental hospitals, Accra Psychiatric, Pantang Psychiatric, both in Accra and Ankaful Psychiatric hospital in the Central Region.
In the light of this, Dr. Amissah said, the authority was striving to curb the challenges facing mental health delivery through collaborative efforts with stakeholders, including NGOs to ensure equity and quality health care.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Friends of Mental Healthier, Nana Okase Essandoh said the lack of resources at the various mental health facilities, as well as the daily struggle to feed and ensure that patients received their required medications, informed the establishment of the Fiends of Mental Health (FMH) NGO, to enhance mental health care within the African continent.
This organization is in partnership with the Ministry of health and the Mental Health Authority.
Meanwhile, there has been a 20 member board of trustees who are notable and highly respected people from various institutions and organizations, to steer the affairs of the NGO, in order to make sure its purpose of establishment is achieved.
A former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Prof. Stephen Adei, who is also a member of the board trustee of the organisation, also said, persons with mental disorders were the most vulnerable in the society who needed help.
According to him, persons with mental disorders could hardly do anything about their condition, thus the need for society to show humanity, by helping them to recover.