Mental Healthcare in Ghana still faces a myriad of challenges two years after the passing of the mental health bill by its parliament. Specific provisions such as improving access to in-patient and out-patient mental health care in communities and combating discrimination and stigmatization against people with mental illness and promoting their human rights seem to be far from being achieved soon.
This is primarily because helpless mental health patients still roam on the streets of major cities and towns in Ghana without proper psychiatric care. While families may be blamed for discriminating and shunning relatives with mental illness such that the patients are left without care, the inaccessibility to mental health facilities remains a major impediment to the promotion of quality mental healthcare in the country.
According to a mental health practitioner, Mr. Kelvin Odonkor, incredible strides can be made in the delivery of quality mental healthcare in Ghana if Ghanaians understand and perceive mental health conditions as medical condition with causative factors and not a spiritual one. Most families are known to send relatives who need psychiatric care to prayer camps for ‘deliverance’ with the thoughts the conditions is spiritual.
However, in an interview on Radio Univers’ health literacy show, ‘Good Health’, Mr. Odonkor noted that the role of families in assisting mental health patients cannot be overemphasized and as such must be prioritized to help patients reintegrate easily into society after treatment.
“Mental illness has causative factors and with that taken away, patients will be back to normalcy. If
we are able to show the needed support, we would have patients getting better and wouldn’t see the numbers of mental health illnesses rising” he said.
He added that the government must establish as many mental health centres across the country to make access to mental healthcare even and easy to the populace.
With some ongoing interventions such as the ‘arrest and treatment of roaming mental health patients’ by the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, there is a likelihood of Ghana making remarkable progress in addressing the challenge of access to proper mental healthcare soon.