A counselling support network is set to be established to improve the psychological well-being of survivors of COVID-19, persons with psychological disabilities and their caregivers.
Madam Wendy Abby, a Technical Consultant, explained that the establishment of the network would help bridge gaps, address mental stress issues, and offer services and support to people with emotional and psychological challenges.
“It will also promote their fundamental rights to live decent lives and help fight the underlining challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic facing persons with mental health conditions,” she said.
Madam Abbey said this at MindFreedom Ghana’s stakeholder’s inception meeting on a Project dubbed:
“Improving the Mental Well-being of Persons with Psychological Disabilities and their Caregivers in the Context of COVID-19” in Accra.
It formed part of a series of strategic platforms of an ongoing Project of MindFreedom Ghana, seeking to develop a policy brief to move the discussion on COVID-19 and mental health services in the country to an understanding level.
MindFreedom Ghana is envisioned to improve the mental health and lives of persons with mental disabilities in Ghana as well as promote their human rights and dignity.
The Project, which commenced in March 2022 and is expected to end in February 2023, has the primary objective of improving COVID-19 and national health services and information for persons with psychological disabilities and their caregivers in the communities.
Madam Abbey said the current project would also strengthen the capacity of communities for advocacy and awareness creation.
“The project is to give insights into the realities of mental health and how the COVID-19 pandemic has created panic, fear and anxieties in local communities and persons with mental
“Further, it would contribute to addressing the bane of stigma and discrimination associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has adversely affected the economic and social lives of patients and their relatives,” said.
She called for collaboration with immunisation teams toward the improvement of awareness of caregivers towards addressing disinformation and misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines.
Equal Rights in Action Fund of the National Democratic Institute of the United States is supporting the implementation of the project to build the resilience of caregivers to help address stigma and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 among people with psychosocial disorders.
A presentation by Ms Charlotte E. Okae, an Expanded Programme in Immunisation (EPI) Officer, Ghana Health Service (GHS), said it was the vision of GHS to vaccinate all the eligible population and reach herd immunity within the shortest possible time.
However, she noted the possibility of the vision was to have the support of all stakeholders.
“To ensure successful coverage, there is the need to enter the districts through communication, advocacy and social mobilisation strategy.
“COVID vaccinations should be ensured as well as the routine ongoing campaign to reach all our targets,” she said.
Another presentation by Dr Yaw Arthur, a Representative of the Mental Health Authority, emphasised how globally, mental health was not well responded to during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
He was pleased with the objectives of the meeting’s intended outcomes which he described as timely interventions that sought to achieve laudable ways to improve mental healthcare in the country.
“There is also the need for elevation of mental services in the national response to COVID-19.” Dr Arthur said.
Participants stressed the need to manage psychosis by stepping up education for caregivers, introducing psychosocial interventions and ensuring psychopharmacology after proper diagnosis.
They said COVID-19 had increased mental ill-health, worsened mental illnesses, and increased stress and therefore called for a collaborated concerted effort by all stakeholders to address the matter.
“We also want the inclusion of mental health issues to be intensified through public education and sensitisation on mental health issues in the communities.” Mr Dan Taylor, Executive Secretary of MindFreedom, said.
He urged participants to carry the learnings from the meeting to their respective working groups and endeavour to talk about issues of mental health at any public gatherings.
Intervention on Mental Health and Promotion of mental health services in the national response to COVID-19 were among the presentation at the meeting.
About 30 participants took part in the one day discussion organised by MindFreedom.