Mental health disability rights advocacy organization, Basic Needs Ghana, asks for respect for the sexual and reproductive rights of persons with mental health disabilities.
It says, just like everyone else, persons with mental health disabilities also have the right to marry and raise their own families.
The organization, therefore, condemns families that discourage persons with mental health disabilities from marrying or subject them to family planning methods against their will.
Basic Needs Ghana says, families that engage in such acts are committing a human right offense, punishable by law.
The organization communicated this message through a stage play during a durbar on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, at Ashaiman in the Greater Accra region.
The theme for the durbar was, building a stronger movement for inclusive sexual reproductive health rights of persons with mental health disabilities and their care givers.
It was aimed at educating persons with mental health disabilities, their care givers and the general public on the sexual and reproductive rights of persons with mental ailments and how victims can access information about their sexual reproductive rights.
Project officer at Basic Needs Ghana, Mr. Sunday Anaba said, "generally in Ghana, people are shy to talk about sexuality, and people who have mental ailments are even shy the double".
That, he added, "makes them ignorant of their sexual and reproductive rights; and, therefore, are helpless when they are abused, or their rights are being taken from them".
Mr. Anaba urged the general public, especially families of persons with mental health disabilities and health workers to encourage them to access such services.
He lamented that, very often, persons with mental health disabilities were ignored during communal activities or programmes meant to educate the public. And so, they were unable to access services that would help improve their lives.
He called on the heads of state agencies invited to the durbar, like the Ghana Health Service, to ensure that public education programmes were inclusive of persons with mental health disabilities.
It came to light at the durbar that, persons with mental health disabilities within the municipality are not accessing the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Municipal director of the Scheme who made the disclosure said, "despite the National Health Insurance registration being free of charge for persons with mental health disabilities, many people with such conditions are not taking advantage of it".
Madam Patrina Anthony attributed the situation to lack of family support. And called on all members of society, especially families of victims, to help them access such services, since some of them were unable to do such things on their own due to their conditions.
The Presiding Member of the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly, Hon. Anaka Azorkey disclosed that, the Assembly was in the process of setting a mental health desk at all the health facilities within the Municipality.
He said, that would help for early detection of mental health disorders and also easy access of information by victims.
Hon. Azorkey urged all to take their mental health seriously and also be on the lookout for others; adding that, "don't be deceived to think that, only people walking naked on the streets have mental health problems".