Let’s avoid discrimination, unequal treatment in mental health-MEHSOG

Mental Health

The Mental Health Society of Ghana(MEHSOG) and Alliance for Mental Health has called for efforts to avoid discrimination and unequal treatment against persons with mental health.

The groups believe that Service Users with critical stakeholders in Ghana’s mental health system were neglected and refused representation of the Ghana Mental Health Authority governing board.

In a statement released by Ms Esenam Drah, Projects Coordinator, MEHSOG, as part of the celebration of this year’s World Mental Health Day and copied the GNA, demanded the inclusion of a Service User on the yet to be constituted Mental Health Board.

On 10th October of every year, the world celebrates world mental health day, a week-long event.
The theme for the 2021 World Mental Health Day is “Mental Health in an Unequal World.

MEHSOG and Alliance for Mental Health and Development are leading the advocacy for a “permanent seat” on the governing board of the Mental Health Authority and calling on the Minister of Health to consider the inclusion of mental health service users on the governing board pursuant to Section four of the Mental Health Law (Act 846 2012).

Ms Drah stated that “this is because Section 4(i) allows the Minister of Health to nominate three non-governmental persons to the 11-member Board and therefore their call is in line with the relevant section of the Mental Health Law.”

“Fortunately, following the dissolution of the previous board a new one is yet to be named. This is why we find it prudent to dutifully ask the Minister to ensure inclusiveness when constituting the new governing board.”

The groups believe that in today’s world, many people with a mental illness do not receive the treatment that they were entitled to and deserve, and together with their families and careers experienced stigma and discrimination.

She said the worst of all was Service Users in Ghana who were ignored or discriminated against during the composition of the Mental Health Board.

“Much as the recently dissolved Mental Health Board had a User on board, the subsequent ones did not. There is therefore the tendency that the yet to be constituted and inaugurated Board might not include a Service User. This contributes to the inequality in the area of mental health,’’ the statement said.

Highlighting the importance of Service User representation on the governing board of the Mental Health Authority, it explained that it would ensure equal access of service users onto the board and foster inclusionary practices within mental health services in Ghana.

It said mental health service user involvement in decision making could be an important strategy for advocacy to improve service delivery.

“Besides, the involvement of service users on the board will help improve the responsiveness of the Mental Health Authority to respect the needs of the users and reduce stigma”.

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