The Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) has called for a holistic approach in the management of bipolar disorder to help reduce the burden of mental illness.
‘Stakeholders are called upon to institute more effective measures to deal with bipolar disorder globally and uphold international best practices,’’ it said.
A statement signed by Mrs Joy Anima Debrah, National Public Relations Officer of GPA, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said for various reasons, mental health issues were largely neglected and underestimated, making the implementation of quality mental health care measures challenging.
The statement said the treatment gap for mental illnesses in Ghana was about 50 percent to 80 percent, thus, there were many people suffering quietly from mental illnesses without accessing the needed care.
Mental health, it said, was an essential aspect of health, and that it significantly influenced the cause, course, management and prevention of many other diseases, which ultimately determined a person’s general wellbeing.
‘‘Living with a mental illness can significantly affect your daily functioning, social interactions and performance in any task and also make pursuing life goals more difficult,’’ it added.
The statement explained that usually, people suffering from bipolar disorder had alternating episodes of unusually elevated moods (manic episode) and low mood (depressive episodes), with periods of normal mood could be described as, “at one point they are on top of the world, and another point, the world is on top of them..”
It added that the extreme moods significantly impaired their functioning and could influence certain behaviours that may be inappropriate, socially unacceptable.
It said the varying degrees of experiences significantly impaired their functioning, social relations, pursuit of their academic and career goals, and may be a barrier in conforming to properly societal norms.
The GPA, therefore, recommended a combination of therapies in addressing the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of sufferers.
The statement said while proper treatment in a health facility was very necessary to control symptoms with the use of some medications, psycho social counselling services were critical for sufferers to help in managing the risks or triggers, and maximise their functioning.
The Association urged family members and society to provide support for persons with the disorder, during treatment and intervention, and beyond because good social support was key in upholding all the bipolar management protocols for life to minimise the negative effects of the disorder and a possible reoccurrence.
‘‘Providing the appropriate treatment of bipolar disorder is essential to reduce a major complication and a high lifetime risk of 15 percent to committing suicide.
‘‘Inadequate access to quality care, lack of compliance to treatment protocols, societal stigma, negative religious interference, and inability to deal with triggers may increase risk factors initiating the episodes.
‘‘Remember, there is no health without mental health! GPA wishes you a mentally healthy day, as we celebrate World Bipolar Day,’’ it said.
World Bipolar Day is celebrated on March 30th every year to create awareness on Bipolar Disorder.
According to Whole Health Organization (2019), approximately, 45 million people live with bipolar disorder globally, out of the 700 million people living with some form of mental illness with a peak onset age of 15 to 19, typically starting before age 30.