During the early 60s, Ghana was relatively peaceful. Stress was almost unknown. The first president of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, had complete control over Ghana's economy. Several factories were built and these factories survived, thanks to the state farms that were initiated by the president. There was nothing like unemployment and even students got jobs for three months during the long vacation. There was no urgent need to travel abroad.
Even footballers and other sportsmen and women were reluctant to travel outside because it was good in Ghana. A typical example is the football maestro, legend and the dribbling magician, Osei Kofi, who refused he contract invitations from German and an American teams. The dribbling magician refused all contracts and preferred to end his career with Asante Kotoko.
Money was not a problem. What then disrupted the full employment and prosperity in Ghana?
Research conducted by a group of doctors and psychiatrists examined one thousand civil servants and Chief executive officers. It was discovered that 65 percent of the workers interviewed had psychiatric problems. A second group of 800 people was selected from streets and homes. Upon close and careful examination by doctors and psychiatrists, 73 percent had mental and psychiatric problems.
What reason can be assigned to this unfortunate problem? Admittedly the situation is quite complex. However, we can easily say that the low salary level and high taxes are a great headache to the worker leading to mental problems.
Joblessness or massive unemployment is also a major reason for mass mental problems. In the last four years, about 290,000 students who graduated from universities and polytechnics are either at home or gallivanting the streets selling mobile chips, dog chains and things that graduates do not deserve to do. They are compelled to do all kinds of menial jobs that will put food in their mouths.
Sadly, students who complete teaching universities like university of Education at Cape Coast and Winneba, no longer have automatic and permanent employment at Senior High Schools, Training Colleges etc. To get such employments, one has to pay not less than GHc5000. Some of these armed robbers taught the students who joined them how to use cocaine, marijuana and other forms of hard drugs. Many have gone this way but they are always seen very well dressed.
One man who came out of university four years ago had serious mental problems due to joblessness. His pastor told him his mother is the cause of his problem. He went home and killed his mother.
In Awutu Breku in the Central Region, Kojo Mbir had a five room apartment. He gave two rooms to her sister and her two elderly children. Kojo Mbir was a chain wee smoker and the sister showed great concern and advised him to stop. One fine day, he told her sister to move out with her children. The woman was reluctant, so he called his nephew who was the first child of his sister and told him to come home now otherwise he would come and meet her mother dead. As soon as the boy arrived, his mother shouted angrily: Your uncle is ejecting us from the house for no reason. Tell your uncle that we are not moving out. Kojo Mbir rushed on the sister and gave her three strokes of knife in the neck area, on the breast and the final one in the stomach was the last straw. She died.
The child grabbed the mother and began to weep. Kojo Mbir was merciless and gave his nephew a severe cut on his forehead and several strokes at his back.
The man was taken to court and the judge ordered investigation into his brain. The result showed that even though he was not naked, he was mad. He was taken to a mental hospital.
Two mad men, completely naked, spent their nights in an uncompleted building. John Nti, a C.E.O of a processing company always passed by these mad men. One day he arrived home and did not find his wife. Unknown to him the wife visited her brother and his wife who had just returned from abroad. John was shocked when looking through the window and saw her wife with a man by her side and another woman. The man put his hand around the neck of his sister who is John's wife. When John's wife got home after saying goodbye to his brother and his wife the husband came down and shouted angrily: you prostitute, you think I didn't see your boyfriend's arm around your neck? Before the woman could say anything John shot her two times in the head, killing her instantly.
A lady who was always well dressed managed a small shop for a widow. She was paid just GHc300 a month. She had three children but she felt since her husband had a good job and a good salary, they could manage. After three years of working in the shop, the husband died in a car accident. The woman was left alone to take care of the children. The shop owner increased her salary to GHc500. With the little amount she received, she managed to feed them in the morning and prepare soup that could last for two evenings. One Friday she closed early from work. When she arrived home she found to her surprise that the fourth child had dipped her hand in the soup and began to eat the meat. The mother boiled water and went for her daughter and placed the child's hand in the boiling water. Psychological examination revealed she had mental trouble
More than six million people have different kinds and levels of mental troubles and madness in Ghana but such people are always well dressed and many of them are gainfully employed. It is therefore difficult to know who has a mental problem. Many Ghanaians are aware of their problems but they try to suppress them for fear of being discriminated against. Two things happen: Such a person can beat or kill his wife, children and even the landlord. Since they have hidden the problem, with time it can break into full craziness and a man who probably is a Director of a company will have to spend time in a mental hospital.
Life is very unbearable to the vast majority of Ghanaians. Students who have graduated from tertiary institutions have remained unemployed for more than three months. They are compelled to do menial jobs in order to put food in their mouths. Even those who are permanently employed cannot make ends meet.
The tension and pressure seeping through the rank and file are driving able people mad. I will suggest that psychiatric tests be taken biannually. Such test must be conducted on all workers. This must apply to unemployed graduates who flood the street.
Stephen Atta Owusu