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17.10.2008 Health

“Pass The Mental Health Bill”

By Daily Guide

THE GOVERNMENT has again been urged to, as a matter of urgency, pass the Mental Health Bill into law. “The continued non-passing of the Mental Health Bill is a source of great worry and anxiety to us.

“We are once more cautioning that posterity would not forgive us if we fail to pass the bill,” advised Dr. Akwasi Osei, acting Chief Psychiatrist in charge of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.

He indicated that the delay in legalising the longstanding Bill was not only affecting the rights of mental patients in the country but hampering efforts being made by key stakeholders to make mental health issues a priority.

“If we really want to see mental healthcare progress in this country, then we have no choice but to pass the bill into law.”

He made the call at a ceremony to formally launch this year's World Mental Health Day on the theme; “Making Mental Health a Global Priority: Scaling up Services through Citizen Advocacy.”

He attributed the rise in stigma and discrimination against persons with mental problems to the absence of a legislation that provides maximum protection for people with psychosocial disabilities.

He however mentioned that the formation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like BasicNeeds, Mindfreedom and the Ghana Mental Health Association, which were playing advocacy roles, would help improve mental health services in the country.

“I must also mention that a research work currently being carried out by the Mental Health and Poverty Project, a DFID funded and WHO collaborated project in four African countries including Ghana, would help put in place measures of intervention not only to improve services, but also help scale up mental health services in the country,” he noted.

Dr. Osei revealed that a total of 95,533 different forms of mental cases were recorded at the three mental hospitals in the country, adding, the cases ranged from depression, mania, epilepsy, psychosis, schizophrenia and alcohol and drug abuse.

The trend, he warned, would not auger well for the development of the country if allowed to continue.

The occasion, chaired by Mrs. May Osae-Addae, Chief Nursing Officer at the Ministry of Health, was also addressed by representatives of WHO and the Ghana Mental Health Association.

By Grace Dartey