About four million Ghanaians, out of the estimated population of 28million are suffering from mild to severe mental illness, the Mental Health Authority (MHA), has said.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the authority, Dr Caroline Amissah who disclosed this on the sidelines of the launch of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Friends of Mental Health, in Accra on Monday, said one in every four persons in Ghana has a mental illness.
According to her, the four million persons were suffering from mild to severe mental disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia, with depression and schizophrenia as the lead mental disorders in mild and severe mental disorders respectively.
Mental health not a priority
Speaking at the launch, Dr Amissah said in spite of the huge number of persons with mental disorder conditions, mental health continued to be low in the priority of health planners at all levels, especially, the government.
That, she said was reflective in the quality and quantity of mental health services in the country, adding that poor funding, lack of adequate medication and personnel were some of the major challenges of the mental health delivery.
“Last year for instance, the government did not release any funds for mental health services, while this year the government has not provided any drugs although GH¢500,000 had been released for the various mental health facilities, ” she said.
Although there was also an allocation of GH¢3million for drugs for mental health in the budget for this year, Dr Amissah said the drugs were yet to be purchased, a situation forcing the authority to rely on NGOs and other partners for drugs to sustain mental patients in the country.
Compounding the challenges, Dr Amissah said almost all mental health inpatient beds were located in the only three mental hospitals, Accra Psychiatric, Pantang Psychiatric, both in Accra and Ankaful Psychiatric hospital in the Central Region.
Friends of Mental Health
For that reason, Dr Amissah said the authority was striving to curb the challenges facing mental health delivery through collaborative efforts with stakeholders, including NGOs to ensure equity and quality health care.
In his address, the Chief Executive Officer of the Friends of Mental Health, Nana Okase Essandoh said the lack of resources at the various mental health facilities, as well as the daily struggle to feed and ensure that patients received their required medications informed the establishment of the organisation.
A former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Prof. Stephen Adei, who is also a member of the board trustee of the organisation, said persons with mental disorders were the most vulnerable in the society who needed help.
He said persons with mental disorders could hardly do anything about their condition, hence the need for society to show humanity by helping them to recover.