Dr Akwasi Osei, the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Mental Health Authority (GHA) has expressed worry over the poor attention given to mental health care in the country and called for stakeholders’ intervention.
Dr Osei said most mental health facilities were in poor state making the delivery of services very difficult for both patients and health practitioners.
He was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on the sidelines of the inauguration of the “Acute Ward 3” of the Pantang Hospital, which had been rehabilitated through the efforts of Dr Michael Brennan, a Scottish-Irish philanthropist.
He noted: “We have infrastructure challenges in terms of deficit; the few we have are also challenged in terms of rehabilitation.
“We do not have money to be running the services and to be doing the rehabilitation ourselves.”
Dr Osei, who scored the mental health situation in Ghana ‘two out of 10’, said all the provisions for quality mental health care were virtually non-existence in the country even though he admitted there had been few major improvements over the years.
He said: “When we talk of quality mental health care, we are talking about the adequate human resources, the state-of-the-art facilities, the equitability in the spread of services all over the country so that anybody can easily access mental health care.
“We are talking about financial resources thus money to run the services; adequate medications throughout the year, the reduction of stigma that goes with mental health, and the reduction of human right abuses,” he added.
He said the services the psychiatric hospitals were providing currently were skewed in terms of distribution, saying, “They are not spread nationwide” and therefore called for the establishment of additional mental health facilities especially in the Northern belt to deal with cases from that zone.
All the three Mental Health hospitals in the country – Accra, Pantang, and Ankaful Psychiatric Hospitals – are located in the southern belt.
Dr Osei noted that mental health care in Ghana needed immediate intervention of the government and benevolent individuals and organisations to help fix the challenges.
He said the ultimate solution to the mental health problems in the country was the passage of a Legislative Instrument on Mental Health; as it has provisions for raising funds to support the facilities.
He noted that the government was to procure medications every two years, adding “unfortunately the last time government provided for the mental health facilities was in 2011, meaning “we were left on our own to fend for ourselves so we are in serious deficit”.
He said when they run into deficits “it only takes some benevolent individuals, philanthropist, and Non-Governmental Organisations to come in and bail us out, or we write for the patients to get the expensive drugs themselves”.