Mental health law needs a Legislative Instrument

Persons working around mental health
Persons working around mental health
Persons working around mental health
Persons working around mental health

Organisations and persons working around mental health say lack of a legislative instrument backing Ghana?s mental health law passed in 2012 is rendering it redundant and useless, opening windows for continuous abuse of mental health patients.

?The rights of mental health patients are continually abused or trampled upon because there is no Legislative Instrument (LI) to enforce the mental health act (Act 846) and there are no resources for the governing board to operate,? they said at a stakeholder meeting organised by BasicNeeds Ghana and the Greater Accra Mental Health Alliance.

Mr Humphrey Kofie, Executive Director of Mental Health Society of Ghana, told the GNA on the sidelines of the meeting that the law stipulated the establishment of a mental health fund for its operationalisation and provision of essential medicines to patients but government till date has reneged on that responsibility.

?Government has not demonstrated any seriousness in the establishment of the mental health fund, as it is there is no medications in the psychiatric health facilities, putting the lives of nurses working there in danger and there is no feeding either,? he added.

Mrs Rita Kusi Kyeremeh, Executive Director of Ghana Federation of the Disabled, said implementation of the law was very crucial for full enforcement of the law and urged government to expedite action on development of the guidelines.

She said the government ought to come out immediately with an implementation plan for short and long terms and share with relevant stakeholders for inputs.

Dr Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority expressed worry that nothing was being done to implement the law, noting that ?there is even no budget line for the authority?.

He said there was the need to set up the fund to run the secretariat and ensure the law was being put into action to protect the fundamental rights of patients and provide medications and feeding for the patients.

According to the Mental Health Authority, Ghana?s mental health sector is bereft with widening treatment gap of 98 per cent while patients suffered widespread human rights, including chaining and preventing them from enjoying the disability common fund.

The mental health act was passed to address those challenges, however an LI to back the operationalisation of the law is yet to be passed and ensure the establishment of Mental Health Fund, increase in training for human resource and criminalise human rights abuse of the mentally ill.

Establishment of human rights machinery like visiting committees and mental health tribunals have also been stalled due to lack of funding.

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