Mental health disorders to be on NHIS from April 1, 2024

Health Mental health disorders to be on NHIS from April 1, 2024
FEB 22, 2024 LISTEN

The Mental Health Authority (MHA) says from April 1, 2024, clients will begin to access mental health services using the National Health Insurance card.

Professor Pinaman Appau, the Chief Executive of MHA, said the move would help improve clients' access to mental healthcare services.

“We are hoping that it will be formally announced by the President and Chief Executive of the NHIA so that clients will benefit,” she added.

Prof Appau said this during the MHA 2023 annual performance review in Accra.

The review gives the Authority an opportunity to engage with stakeholders and review its performance against set targets, major achievements and challenges during the year under review.

The two-day meeting was on the theme: “Fostering Community Well-Being through Progressive Mental Health Awareness Initiatives”.

She said the MHA and the three psychiatric hospitals under it were faced with serious challenges of land encroachment, funding, infrastructure, human resource, transportation, frightening rate of staff exodus particularly nurses, inadequate psychotropic medicines, as well as high human rights abuses.

The MHA in its 2024 outlook seeks to clear the streets of mentally ill patients, conduct patients and staff satisfaction surveys, establish, and operationalise psychiatric emergency management teams in four regions, regions among others.

It would also seek continuous collaboration with the Ministry of Health for adequate and regular supply of psychotropics, strengthen community mental health activities, facilitate the completion of two psychiatric hospitals and redevelopment of Accra Psychiatric Hospital and Strengthen tele-psychiatry.

The top 10 causes of Mental Health OPD attendance in 2023 are schizophrenia, schizotypal, delusional disorders, epilepsy, depression, mental disorders due to other psychoactive substance use, mental disorders due to alcohol use, generalised anxiety, bipolar disorder, dementia and detrium.

Prof Appau said “mental health is not just about those who are sick and naked on the streets, or those who get aggressive and are taken into the facilities, but it is with us day in and out.

“For instance, I can wake up one morning irritated because I did not sleep well, feel sad and start shouting at my children or husband. I may not have what we call mental illness but mental ill health.

“So, it is with us, and this is why we must take care of our mental health day in and day out. Are we having enough rest, are we able to talk to people about our problems, and do we have the network of support required?

“These are the things the MHA takes care of by educating the public during the Mental Health Awareness month.”

He called for the need to improve access to psychotropic medicines to enhance mental health treatment.

In Ghana, more than 2.3 million individuals grapple with diverse mental health conditions with a 98 per cent treatment gap as reported by the World Health Organisation in 2023.

Alarmingly, only around two per cent of Ghanaians dealing with mental health conditions have access to psychiatric treatment and support through healthcare facilities.

Ms Estelle Appiah, the Chairperson, Mental Health Authority Board, on behalf of the Minister, said the situation highlighted the gravity of mental health challenges in Ghana.

She said: “It is crucial to acknowledge that these statistics might not fully encapsulate the comprehensive landscape because unfortunately, we do not have precise data on mental health disorders in the country.”

Ms Appiah called on stakeholders to augment ongoing efforts to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and promote understanding of mental health in communities.

“Mental health is a vital part of well-being, impacting individuals, families, and society.

“ It is, therefore, our shared responsibility to prioritise mental health in services provided by our healthcare institutions,” she stated.

The MHA Board Chairperson pledged the government’s commitment to ensure mental health attracted the necessary attention and priority it deserved.

The Accra Psychiatric, Ankaful Psychiatric and Pantang Hospitals gave presentations on the current state of their facilities, their challenges, achievements and called for funding and logistics to enable them to operate efficiently.