The launch of this year’s mental health week in Accra was marked with a sobering message from Dr Pinaman Appau, the Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority (MHA). She highlighted the alarming rise in mental health issues among the public, attributing it to growing economic struggles and social isolation.
Back in 2016, a national count was conducted, revealing over 6,000 individuals suffering from mental illnesses living on the streets and in public places. Dr Appau confirmed that a new count will be conducted soon, with the data gathered to be used for developing interventions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in September that close to 2.4 million Ghanaians could be suffering from various forms of mental illnesses. This is a matter of national security, according to Dr Appau, who also pointed out that the increasing number of people with mental illnesses, psychosocial, intellectual, and cognitive disabilities living on the streets is deeply concerning.
The economic hardships, worsened by rising unemployment rates and business closures, have had a profound impact on mental health. The uncertainty surrounding the economy, the isolation brought about by our changing social fabric, and the lack of access to healthcare and education, have all contributed to this crisis.
The MHA and the Ministry of Health are looking into implementing a programme aimed at removing individuals suffering from mental illnesses from the streets. This strategy is intended to restore the dignity and respect of these individuals, and to reintegrate them back into their communities.
Dr Appau has called for support from all stakeholders in advocacy efforts and provision of necessary logistics for the implementation of this strategy. She emphasized that mental health is a universal right, and everyone, regardless of their background, race, ethnicity, gender, or geographic location, has the fundamental right to mental well-being. This includes access to mental health services and support systems necessary for maintaining and promoting mental health.
Source: Senali News Ghana