Police Service: Free medical care for the mentally challenged is crucial

By law it is a crime for a police or prison officer to call a suspect or an inmate as a madman.

Ghana Police Logo
Ghana Police Logo

The Police and Prison Officers in the Eastern Region have called for the enforcement of the policy on free medical care for the mentally challenged.

Ghana Police Logo
Ghana Police Logo

They explained that the condition would empower them to support the removal of persons with mental challenges from public places to the medical facilities for treatment.

The two security services expressed their displeasure at the current condition where under the Mental Health Act they were required to help families and community members move their mental relations to the hospital, yet when they arrive at the medical facilities, the facilities demand money for the treatment of the patients.

This came to light at a workshop organized on the Mental Health Act for police and prison officers in the Eastern Region at Koforidua.

The Eastern Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Akuruba Yaagy advised police personnel in the Region to ensure that when they arrested mentally challenged person on the request of their relations, the fellow was subjected to medical examination within 72 hours before being confined for treatment.

He called for a second look at the Mental Health Act on issues of how to handle violent mentally challenged personnel from the place of arrest to the health facility.

He said the police do not use soft materials in restricting the hands of suspects apart from handcuffs which was not considered in the law.

Ms Dorothy Owusu- Ansah of the Kade Mental Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service said it is against the Mental Health Act for a police officer to ignore a complained made by a fellow on the grounds of their mental health.

Ms Owusu-Ansah urged the police to refer people who attempt to commit suicide and accused persons suspected to be mentally challenged to the mental health unit for psychiatric examination.

She said under the law the police has a responsibility to remove persons with mental disorders from public places to health centers for treatment,

Mr Elvis Acheampong of the Mental Health Unit of the GHS explained that pregnant women who buy drugs on the counter without prescription from accredited medical officers could give birth to babies with mental illness.

He said in the course of delivery, when care is not taken and the head of the baby hits a hard surface and the injury is not taken care of, the baby could develop mental illness in future.

Ms Akosua Serwaa Bonsu, the Eastern Regional Mental Health Coordinator said the workshop was part of efforts to educate the public about the new Mental Health Act to help in its implementation.

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