Mental illness is no respecter of person and could affect anyone; the rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated.
In Ghana it is estimated that about 42 per cent of the population have some sort of mental disorders while the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also observed that there is 98 per cent treatment gap in the total population expected to have mental illnesses.
It is also estimated that 650,000 in Ghana are suffering from severe mental disorder while about 2,166,000 are also suffering from a moderate to mild mental disorder.
The interpretation of these alarming statistic is however evident in our daily interaction with people and what we see on the streets of Accra and in other parts of the country.
Over the years, funding mental health care in Ghana has been a great challenge to the Mental Health Authority due to the lack of a political will to see to the provision of a Legislative Instrument (LI) to back the implementation of the mental health act of 2012.
Present and successive government have not committed much resources to funding mental health care in Ghana hence the inability of the three mental health facilities in Ghana to provide effective mental health care to persons with mental illness.
Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior or a combination of these. It is associated with stress, depression and problems functioning in social, work or family activities.
After six years on passing the mental health act, an LI has not been formulated to ensure that implementation of the well and beautifully crafted act meant to give policy directions to mental health care.
The various psychiatric hospitals are mostly in the news for lack of medications, funding and other resources to provide efficient services to the public.
The whole of this year for instance, government has only paid salaries of mental health workers but has not released adequate funding for the workers he is paying to provide services to the patients for which they are being paid.
Dr. Pinaman Appau, the medical director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital has sated that our consciences as a people is shown in how we house and care for the mentally ill and treat the people who walk on the streets naked, eating and drinking what they can manage to find.
Though mental health care is supposed to the provided free of charge, patients are now paying for their services. The Dr stated that patients who are unable to afford the monies charged stop coming to the facility and end up on the streets. This is a terribly worrying situation and we ought to bow our heads in shame as a people who claim to be religious and care for each other.
As Ghana joins the rest of the world to observe the World Mental Health Day today, on the theme ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World,’ the Gold Street Business believes that the government needs to take the provision of mental health care in Ghana seriously by addressing the funding gaps.
We acknowledge that the government cannot do it all alone, and we therefore call on all corporate institutions and individuals to support the mental health authority carry out its mandate.
The Goldstreet Business entreats the government to as a matter of urgency see to the provision of the LI to the mental health law, establish the mental health levy as called for by the Mental Health Act 846, release money for mental health care and procure psychotropic medicines for mental health care now.