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12.10.2008 Health

Mental Health Should Be Given Priority Attention - Stakeholders


Stakeholders in mental health yesterday said mental health, which has been neglected and stigmatised, should be given priority attention to ensure equal treatment of patients.They noted that absence of political will, financing and inadequate resources faced that aspect of health and explained that mental issues had been relegated by the authorities.

They stressed that mental illness is treatable and highly preventable and called on Ghanaians to ensure that they visited their relatives who found themselves in psychiatric hospitals and also accepted them back home when they were treated.
Speaking at a day's workshop for journalists on effective reporting on mental health in Accra, Mrs Janet Amegatcher, a lawyer, cited the delay in the passage of the Mental Health Bill as an example of the neglect of the illness.
The workshop, organised by Basic Needs in collaboration with Mind Freedom, Ghana, both non-governmental organisations, is to enable journalists to understand mental health issues so as to cover and report on mental health and development related issues.
Mrs Amegatcher said people with psycho-social disabilities had equal rights as normal beings and urged Ghanaians to ensure that such persons were given the needed and equal rights.

Dr Akwasi Osei, Acting Chief Psychiatrist and Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, explained that mental health remains a major problem worldwide and it has escalated due to the increased number of refugees and internally displaced persons, which had weakened the social structures.

He said people with mental illness could be productive, contributing to society and explained that every person had a trait of psycho-social disability.

Dr Osei urged journalists to ensure that they used their pens "positively" to educate the populace on the importance of extending love, care and support to people with psycho-social disabilities.