Government urged to address mental health gap

By Fatima Anafu-Astanga, GNA

Zuarungu, Nov. 14, GNA – The Total Life
Enhancement Centre- Ghana (TOLEC GH), a health NGO, has called on government to
help address mental health treatment gaps and psychological health delivery in
the country.

Mr Peter Mintir Amadu, the Executive
Director of the NGO, said neglecting the mental health situation in the country
could affect the nation’s progress and noted that only two per cent of the
Ghanaian population was able to access mental health treatment and services.

Mr Amadu who is a Clinical Psychologist
spoke in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at the Nurses Training School
in Zuarungu in the Bolgatanga East District, where his outfit was present to
create awareness on mental health among the student nurses and to introduce a
peer counselor’s concept in the school.

He said there was a mental health treatment
deficit of 98 per cent and that indicated that people in such situations were
not able to get support, which affected their productivity levels.

“We need a resourced health facility or a
mental health corner not just for consultation, but a space provided with
professionals where individuals can be observed and advised”, he said.

He also called on government to recruit
professionals to support in managing mental health in the country.

TOLEC GH. is an NGO that deals with
psychological and mental health advocacy, supporting the general population
especially the youth live healthier and productive life through awareness
creation and linkage for psychological and counseling services among others.

Reverend Aaron Prosper Kuubagr, a
psychologist and member of the Ghana Psychiatry Association, reiterated that
the lack of full compliments of mental health services was detrimental to both
affected individuals and the society.

Rev. Kuubagr said there were only two
psychologists in the five regions of the north and no psychiatrists serving in
that part of the country. 

He urged government to introduce psychiatry
training as a full course in every nursing institution to enable student nurses
to go for mental health training and management, so that health facilities in
the country would have adequate numbers of psychiatry nurses.

He decried the inadequate budgetary
allocation for mental health in the country and said most of the resources were
channeled into other areas that did not serve the needs of mental health and
therefore called for needed checks and balances on how funding was used for
mental health.

He said many mental health patients were
unable to pay for treatment and lack of drugs in some facilities deterred
people in such situations to go for further medical attention because of cost
of drugs.

“A session in a private entity cost GHC
150.00 and that also prevent people to go for treatment, however this could be
subsidised in public facilities.

Mr Daniel Acquah, a mental health advocate,
took the students through emotional management and how it was critical for the
students to take their health serious.

Mr Michael Manlamia, the Principal of the
Zuarungu NTC, commended TOLEG for organising the seminar and reiterated that
mental health was relegated to the background and hoped that TOLEG GH would
provide the roadmap for the peer counselors in the school.

He noted that the school also had a
counseling unit headed by a psychiatric tutor, who could help in the new