He said anyone found culpable of violating the right of any mental patient would pay a fine of 500 penalty units, which is equivalent to GHc6, 000 or a sentence of up to five years imprisonment or both.
Mr. Vigbedor said this at a sensitisation workshop for media practitioners in the Western Region on the Mental Health Act, ( Act 846 of 2012), so that they would report accurately on mental-related issues.
He said: “The media must stop labeling mentally-challenged persons as mad people, imbecile, idiot and other dehumanising words but rather give positive description because mental illness is like any other ailment”.
He said mental patients had human rights as any other citizens in the country; therefore, they must be treated fairly, devoid of any discrimination or stigmatisation.
Mr Vigbedor said the Law thus applied to everybody, especially people suffering from mental disorders, their families and anyone responsible for their welfare.
The Law also protected vulnerable persons like children, women and the aged in terms of their accommodation, treatment, guardianship, confidentiality and care.
Mr Vigbedor said the survey was conducted to get a database on mental patients across the country in order to plan for their management and welfare
Consequently, more than 300 mental patients were identified to be loitering on the streets of Western Region, according to the survey conducted by the Mental Health Authority.
It said those found on the streets were persons whose mental illness could be classified as severe and required urgent medical attention.
He explained that the Law was enacted to improve mental healthcare and to shift from the institutional care to community-based approach.
Now every health facility must set up a mental unit to take care of mental patients,” he said.
The Mental Health Authority is a body established by an Act of Parliament to propose, promote and implement mental health policies and provide culturally appropriate, humane and integrated mental health care.
By Godwill Arthur-Mensah/Mildred Siabi-Mensah, GNA