Mental Health Authority to conduct study on Mental Health levy

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Spining

Mrs Caroline Amissah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Mental health Authority (MHA), says the Authority will this year conduct a baseline study on public acceptance on the introduction of a mental health levy.

She said the levy when established would ensure that mental health services become free for all under the laws of Ghana.

“Although mental health service was free as per the laws of Ghana, persons with mental health conditions pay for the services at their facilities.”

Mrs Amissah was addressing the 2020 annual performance review meeting to assess the performance, especially during the pandemic.

The meeting provided the Authority with the platform to receive feedback from stakeholders to develop and improve service delivery.

She said the MHA planned to establish a visiting committee and review tribunal and conduct operational research on staff and clients satisfaction.

“We intend to recruit an appropriate cadre of staff to commensurate mental health care, including a clinical psychologist, counsellors, and male nurses, strengthen monitoring and evaluation of services at all levels to facilitate transparency and accountability.”

She said the Authority would conduct peer reviews, support supervision and review staffing norms in the three psychiatric hospitals as well as build partnerships with all sectors relevant to mental health to secure funding for mental health activities.

Dr Amissah, assessing performance during 2020, said COVID-19 provided opportunities to do more to impact the lives of many both emotionally and mentally.

She said in 2020, the MHA was able to draft a policy on ‘operation clear the street’, and MHA fund management policy, assist the Ministry of Health (MOH) as part of the Agenda 111/113 to identify and process the transfer of ownership of parcels of land for the construction of mental health hospitals for the middle and northern belt of the country.

Dr Amisah said the Authority also observed the celebrations related to mental health, develop HR policy on promotion and conversion, conduct internal and external performances review, expand IT infrastructure within the psychiatric hospitals, automated performance planning, review and evaluation tools, and procure psychotropic medications.

She said some of the challenges during 2020 included widespread stigma and discrimination, inadequate infrastructure, encroachment at the facilities, inadequate staff particularly male nurses, hospital orderlies and security staff, insufficient logistical support and resources for Mental Health Policy in Ghana, the concentration of mental health facilities in the southern part of Ghana, erratic supply of Psychotropic medicines, and outmoded community beliefs and attitudes.

Dr Francis Kasolo, World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, said taking stock of one’s activities was of great importance for organisations growth and an opportunity to celebrate successes, share best practices, identify short-comings and strategize to achieve shared growth of the organisations.

He said the year 2020 was challenging for health and in particular mental health because of the pandemic.

However, the MOH and its agencies, including the MHA ensured that special services including that of mental health continued even during the pandemic.

“The MHA has remained resolute and showed commitment to the mental health agenda through service delivery, quality direction and quality initiatives in order to promote the wellbeing of people with mental health conditions through awareness creation and capacity building.”

Dr Kasolo, however, noted that there was still more to be done including uninterrupted access to psychotropic medicines to those in need across the nation.

He said the WHO was committed to providing technical support to the MHA in strengthening Ghana’s mental health service to achieve a truly comprehensive service in line with the universal health coverage agenda.

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