Songtaba launches project to promote mental health rights of women

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Government is to construct a mental health care hospital in the Northern Region to provide enhanced mental health services for people suffering mental health under its agenda 111.

The Upper East, Upper West, North East, Savannah and some parts of Bono Regions would be key beneficiaries of the facility which is drawn under the government’s health facility expansion programme.

The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, announced this when he launched a project to promote mental health rights of women in Ghana, in Tamale to be executed by a consortium led by Songtaba, a local advocacy Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) operating in the Northern Region.
Already, land meant for the mental health hospital project has been acquired as the region eagerly awaits the commencement of work.

There are only three major mental health care hospitals in the country, and all are located in southern Ghana, thereby discouraging families with mental health persons to seek services of these hospitals because of distance.

Alhaji Saibu said doors of the Regional Coordinating Council of the Northern Region were opened to development-oriented organisations such as Songtaba whose activities were in line with the Coordinating Council’s development agenda, especially in pursuit of demobilizing witches camps in the region.

The organisation, which is partnering with Ghana Somubi Dwumadie and funded by UKaid, hopes to improve mental health care for disadvantaged people in Ghana through strategic and well-examined achievable outcomes to bring hope to people disadvantaged by circumstantial and socially outdated practices in Ghana.

The Minister reminded Local governments in the region to make mental health care issues an essential area of their health needs and design critical needs assessments to be included in their composite budgets.

The Minister encouraged stakeholders on the project to put in their best to make the programme a success and expressed gratitude to Ghana Somubi Dwumadie and UKaid for supporting the project.

Executive Director of Songtaba, Hajia Lamnatu Adams, welcoming participants to the launch, indicated that the project targets for outcomes improved access to mental healthcare-related service delivery to 640 women, including alleged witches in the Northern and North East regions.

It is further seeking to get improved evidence and knowledge on the reduction of stigma and violence against people with mental health, and to create a conducive and enabling policy environment for institutional support for the implementation of the mental health Act.

Hajia Adam noted that mental health issues were not duly featured in health needs, resulting in cases of trauma and depression, and said the programme would involve comprehensive research to enable better advocacy direction with critical concerns and drive for well packaged psychological counselling programmes to psychic people living with mental health issues.

The Programme Lead for Somubi Adwumadie, Ms Lyla Kamara, said the project is supported by her outfit would take 33 months to execute, and added that it was designed to support the government to work on developing evidence-based methodologies to scale up mental health care in the country.

She said one cardinal objective of the programme, would be working on how to eliminate stigma and discrimination people face, especially those with mental health, and added that her outfit was glad to be associated with efforts being made by the consortium led by Sogtaba to address issues geared towards minimising mental health issues in the country.

She expressed worry at the difficult conditions alleged witches in witches camps in the region faced, adding that observation made upon visits to some of the camps indicated that some of the inmates did not have access to social needs such as National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), or were not enlisted under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) among others.

Chiefs, opinion leaders, community heads, women’s groups, some inmates from the witches camps, Christian and Muslim clerics and alleged witches integrated into their communities were part of participants to launch the project.

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