Subsidise antipsychotic drugs: Mental health patients send SOS to government

Mental Health
Mental Health

Mental health patients have called on Government to subsidise the prices of antipsychotic drugs to make them affordable.

They also suggested that the drugs be enlisted under the National Health Insurance Scheme “so that even the poorest” could have access to them.

The appeal was made at a day’s training on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) organised in Accra by Basic Needs Ghana, a mental health development advocacy organisation, for persons with mental health conditions.

The training also enlightened participants on the various channels to use to receive assistance on reproductive health issues.

With financial support from AmplifyChange, a fund that supports Civil Society Organizations that advocate for improved SRHR, the project will also be implemented in the Northern Region, Upper East, and West Regions.

Madam Blessing Addison, a participant, and a mental health patient advised that to intensify awareness on mental health, the Government and other health stakeholders should set up mental health desks at all health centres in the country.

She said that way the country would be taking mental healthcare delivery to the doorsteps of the people, arguing that, service delivery in the country was remote from the people who needed it most.

Mrs Leonora Botwe, Deputy Director of Nursing Services at Ga West Municipal Health Directorate, defined reproductive health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of diseases and infirmity.

She advised participants not to self-stigmatise themselves because irrespective of their state, they shared the same rights with every other citizen.

“Most often because of your issue, you think you are lesser human beings and can’t go wherever you please or do what everyone else does. This is never true because you are also human and deserve every opportunity the world offers. Just believe in yourself, take your drugs as prescribed and your situation will improve with time,” she said.

Mrs Botwe advised Ghanaians not to stigmatise people with mental illness because anybody could become a victim.

“Let us take them as one of us because not all of them were born with such problems. Anyone can get up with a mental illness one day. Someone can just hear bad news and the state of shock can trigger a brain illness. Another can be in his or her house, encounter an accident and end up sick in the head. Be hospitable to such people because most of them were once upon a time having good mental health like you,” she said.

Mrs Botwe called on duty bearers and stakeholders to invest more in mental health and provide the needed resources and education to enhance proper management of such cases.

Mr Anaba Sunday Atua, Projects Officer of BasicNeeds Ghana, said people with mental illnesses faced a lot of challenges including stigmatisation, discrimination and lack of inclusion in various facets of life.

He said due to ignorance of their SRHR, people took advantage of them in many ways, including being raped, as such, he was hopeful that the training programme would equip them with the requisite knowledge.

“Having a mental illness doesn’t mean if I have some discomfort around my sexual reproductive health organs or want to do family planning or check my HIV status, I can’t receive the needed attention,” he added.

He said the training would be discussed at the various group levels spearheaded by Mental Health and Epileptic patient Caregivers so that knowledge received would be spread.

Madam Mary Obiri, a Caregiver, said of late, drugs for mental health patients had become scarce in hospitals, as such, some of her members preferred to self-medicate by purchasing the drugs over the counter instead of buying from the hospital.

That habit, she said often led to retrogression in the health of patients since some of the drugs may not be of the exact quality as the ones sold at the hospitals.

The Caregiver said the training had provided her with knowledge on how to assist her patients to practice proper menstrual hygiene to prevent the contraction of infections.

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