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16.12.2004 General News

Mental illness becoming rife in communities - Dr Allotey

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Accra, Dec. 16, GNA - It is estimated that 30 per cent of people in any community would suffer or show symptoms of mental illness in the course of their lives, Dr Sammy Allotey, Medical Director, Pantang Hospital, said on Thursday.

He said 10 per cent of the estimated figure would be "serious enough to warrant treatment and sometimes eventual hospitalisation as primary illness or secondary to other medical conditions".

Speaking at a day's fundraising and award ceremony for the Hospital, he said the society must renew its attitude towards the mentally ill because "we are all at risk, so let show compassion towards the mentally ill".

Dr Allotey said there had been a steady increase annually in the number of mental patients reporting at the Hospital and added that one alarming trend, was the increasing numbers of young alcoholics and drug addicts.

Almost a third of all male admission so far this year was due to alcohol and drug abuses. "There must surely be something wrong with our society and we must redouble our efforts to curb this trend else we become a country of alcoholics and drug addicts," he said. He said the situation called for the intensification of public education.

Calling for compassion for the mentally ill, Dr Allotey said individuals, who suffered severe physical illness like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and HIV/AIDS, might in the course of their illness experience some mental disorders like depression and anxiety.

"Unfortunately in our part of the world, mental health is not accepted in the same vein as physical illness and patients are ignored, neglected and often pushed to the bottom of the health ladder with patients struggling to fight stigma and discrimination," he said. He said, even though, about 500 million people were mentally ill globally, accounting for about 12 per cent of the world's burden of disease, only one per cent of the total health budget was voted for mental health.

Dr Samuel Nii-Noi Ashong, Minister of State in Charge of Finance and Economic Planning, said the Government was aware the problems of the mental hospitals and the neglect they suffered compared to the general health care services and promised that the Government was taking action to remedy the imbalance.

For instance he said there were on-going projects to improve the water supply to the Hospital in addition to the completion of some residential blocks among other developmental projects. 16 Dec. 04

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