People with mental illness need social interventions – Assemblies urged

Cape Coast, March 28, GNA – Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) should include people with mental illness and epilepsy in the Government’s social intervention programmes at the local level to enhance their recovery, participation and reintegration for national development.

Mr. Humphrey Kofie, Executive Secretary of Mental Health Society of Ghana (MEHSOG), a non-governmental organisation, said that would promote the needs and rights of people with mental illness, together with their primary care-givers and families.

He made plea when he addressed a community durbar at Cape Coast, which attracted officials of the GPRTU, drivers, former assembly members and the public.

The durbar formed part of a project being organized by MEHSOG and Basic Needs Ghana, an NGO, and in collaboration with the Cape Coast Metropolitan Health Directorate.

Mr. Kofie said the Government, through the local Assemblies, needed to build a National Mental Health system that would effectively and efficiently respond to the Mental Health needs of the populace.

He noted that people with mental illness and epilepsy were sometimes abused physically and normally stigmatized in society, a situation, he said, that compounded their already precarious state of health.

Mr. Kofie, therefore, appealed to the MMDAs to protect the rights of such people and address their needs by prioritising their concerns in the Assembly’s social intervention programmes.

He asked the public to respect the rights of mentally-ill people, saying, ‘Mental Illness could affect anyone devoid of age, social status or gender, and we must, therefore, help people in such state of health instead of stigmatizing and abusing them’.

The Executive Secretary also highlighted the need for drivers to manage their stress levels and avoid substance and alcohol abuses, especially when the Easter festivities were approaching.

Mrs. Priscilla Arhin Korankye, the Metropolitan Chief Executive, said the Assemblies had a Social Services Committee that was responsible for helping people with mental illness and epilepsy.

She charged such people to form groups since the Committee did not dispense help to individuals.

Mr. Richmond Yeboah, a Senior Staff Nurse at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital in Cape Coast, in explaining some of the causes and effects of mental illness, said members of the public needed to be sensitized on issues of mental health in Ghana.

He said for instance, epilepsy was not a mental illness as some people tagged it, but it was a brain condition which caused a person to suddenly lose consciousness and sometimes to have fits.

Mr. Yeboah stressed that epilepsy was not contagious, therefore, people would not be infected they touch epileptic patients, especially during attacks.

He advised epileptic patients not to starve themselves since extreme hunger would trigger an attack.

They should also to stay away from excessively noisy areas and avoid activities that generated excessive heat.

Dr. Samuel Kwashie, the Central Regional Director of the Ghana Health Services, lauded the organizers of the programme, and urged all the medical staff to pay particular attention to mental health patients.


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