Records available indicated that there are only 16 practicing psychiatrists in the country.
Ten out of the 16 have retired, while the rest could be following out soon because only two of those in active service are below age fifty.
The Ghana Psychiatric Association (GPA) has therefore called on young trainee doctors to consider joining the profession and has also appealed to government to treat the matter with all the urgency it requires.
Speaking at the 2nd Annual General and Scientific Meeting of the association in Accra on Friday, Chief Psychiatrist and president of GPA, Dr. Samuel Kpakpo said the nation's ability to cope with the challenges of mental health is becoming increasingly difficult because while the number of professionals is fast diminishing, there are an increasingly alarming numbers of mental patients, adding that the trend does not auger well for the country.
“There might be no psychiatrists to treat our patients within a couple of years. There are only 16 in Ghana, 10 of whom are retired and none are below 40 years. Only two are below 50 years old. We are a vanishing breed,” he lamented.
According to Dr. Allotey, many young doctors are not coming into psychiatry probably because they look at those of them in it as a bunch of old professionals with lifestyles nowhere near that of members of other disciplines.
He, therefore, appealed to government to, as matter of urgency, create special conditions for psychiatric services to attract mental health professionals, and also called for a restoration of extra benefits like risk allowances and free accommodation that were abolished in 1972.
He appealed also to the final-year students of the Ghana Medical School to see the profession as a career option, promising that the future is bright. “We will offer you better incentives,” he stressed, “maybe to the level of other countries where psychiatrists are among the top income earners in the medical field.”
He hinted that the GPA was advocating the creation of awareness, demystifying mental illness and collaborating with traditional and spiritual healers because their homes are usually the first points of call by many distressed patients, adding that there was already a programme to train them to offer more humane care.