Dr Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive of the Ghana Mental Health Authority (GMHA), has called for the government to do more to address the myriad of socio-economic challenges facing the people to help reduce cases of mental disorders.
Most Ghanaians, especially public sector workers, he said had mental health issues, and added that in excess of 41 per cent of the population had minor mental problems which could escalate to dangerous levels.
Addressing the 59th annual conference of the Ghana Medical Association, he indicated that mental and neurological problems contributed to about 9 per cent of disabilities in the country. The five-day conference is being held under the theme “Mental health in Ghana”. Dr Osei complained about inadequate public funding for mental health and said that was seriously affecting service delivery to patients. He said the Authority was focusing effort on strengthening and decentralizing mental health care. As part of this, a 40 to 50 bed-capacity facility would be built in all the regional capitals to bring mental health care closer to the people. All doctors would also be trained to provide basic mental health services to mental patients who visited their facilities. Dr Osei spoke of the need for the state to absorb the cost of post graduate training in psychiatry and other specialized
medical training to attract more practitioners to the field.
He also urged the government to constitute the mental health board and ensure the passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI) to ensure full implementation of the mental health law. Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Dr. Ebenezer Ewusi-Emmim, President of GMA, said the association was deeply concerned about the current mental health system and the implications for the general health care system. He said this year’s theme was chosen to put spotlight on the situation and device strategies and measures to inform policy decision on mental care. He expressed worry over non-employment of newly trained medical doctors at a time many district hospitals and health centres lacked qualified doctors. He said the Association found the excuse of non financial clearance unacceptable and that the situation should not continue.