Schizophrenia tops mental health conditions in U/E

Mr Edem Quarshie Ameglah
Mr Edem Quarshie Ameglah

Schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional disorders are the most recorded mental health conditions in the Upper East Upper East Region, Mr Edem Quarshie Ameglah, the Regional Mental Health Coordinator of the Ghana Health Service, has said.

He said they were disorders with common symptoms including hallucination, delusion, thought echo, catatonia altered behaviour, social withdrawal and incoherent speeches, adding that depression which might appear common, could not be compared to the number of schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional cases in the Region.

He said even though schizophrenia reduced from 1,517 cases in 2019 to 1,010 in 2020, it increased again to 1,180 in 2021, whereas depression cases in 2019 were 279 which reduced to 204 in 2020 and saw an increase to 219 in 2021.
Mr Ameglah disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency at Zorko-Kodorogo, in the Bongo District in an interview on the side-line of a community engagement on mental health, organized by the MindFreedom Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organization.

He said some people in their homes may be depressed, noting that “They may not suspect that what is happening to them is a mental health condition for which they need to seek health care.”

He said epilepsy saw a consistent decline from 1,758 in 2019 to 893 and 763 in 2020 and 2021 respectively, while mental disorders due to alcohol use consistently increased from 245 in 2019 to 276 in 2020, and 321 in 2021.

Generalized anxiety and post traumatic stress disorders which both decreased in 2020, peaked by close of year 2021.
He said 253 generalised anxiety cases were recorded in 2019, but decreased to 88 in 2020, and again increased to 281 by close of 2021, and further added that post traumatic stress disorder also decreased from 20 in 2019 to 14 cases, but shot up to 61 cases in 2021.

Mr Ameglah said in 2019, 125 bipolar disorder cases were recorded, and same decreased to 45 in 2020 and subsequently increased to 107 in 2021

Asked if the region had enough psychotropic medicines to handle the conditions, the coordinator said in 2021 the region was challenged with shortage of some psychiatric medicines.

“We ran short of olanzepam and carbamazepine tablets, but early this year, we received some stocks on different occasions from Accra which we distributed. So currently, we have carbamazepine, risperidone, olanzepam and amitriptyline.

“At least, we can get these common ones in the various classes of psychiatric medicines to support mental health care in the region,” Mr Ameglah said.

The Coordinator called for bye-laws to be enacted by the various local authorities to ensure that persons who violated the rights of people with mental health conditions were dealt with accordingly.

He said the Visiting Committee as enshrined in the Mental Health Act was recently inaugurated in Accra, “Luckily, our Visiting Committee in the region has also been inaugurated.

“We are looking forward to the training of the Committee members after which they can visit Health facilities, prayer camps and any other places, where there are persons living with mental health conditions, and monitor to know whether their rights are abused or not, and the appropriate action taken,” he said.

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