Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey, GNA
Accra, Feb. 26, GNA - The Government has increased funding for mental healthcare from six million Ghana Cedis to 15 million cedis.
The funds are expected to be released by March and distributed among the Mental Health Authority (MHA) and the three psychiatric hospitals to run their operations.
Dr Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the MHA, said the amount to be received constituted about half of the Government’s allocation to the Ministry of Health for Goods and Services.
The situation, Dr Osei said, indicated that the Government had become more sensitive and aware to the complications of mental illness to society.
He was speaking at the launch of a research report on: “Exploring the Role of Traditional Mental Health centres and their Impact on Promoting Quality Mental Healthcare and Human Rights in Ghana’ in Accra, on Wednesday.
The research conducted by the Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC) and Mind Freedom Ghana sought to understand the impact of mental healthcare and services provided by Traditional Mental Health Centres (TMHC) and Traditional Health Providers (THP).
Dr Osei said Ghana was gradually extending mental health services nationwide as a lot of steps had been taken to decentralise and make mental healthcare community oriented.
“Ghana now has about 40 psychiatrics in the public health sector, therefore, the Mental Health Authority, together with the Ghana Health Service would work together to ensure that every region has one psychiatrist,” he said.
The Authority, he said, would use the TMHC as frontline informal community mental health workers to enable them to provide better services and bridge the gap between the informal and formal care.
Dr Osei said, this year, a National Mental Health Review Tribunal would be established in Accra with representatives from all over the country to address concerns of persons who were wrongly admitted in mental health hospitals.
He expressed the hope that the mental health levy would soon be established to enable the Authority to function effectively.
The research report indicated the traditional mental health centres and practitioners played a significant role in the provision of mental health services.
Traditional centres addressed the spiritual, physical and the socio-cultural needs of clients as well as provided a holistic way of addressing ailments in a culturally appropriate manner, he said.
The report said the traditional care providers were highly accessible in rural areas and their modalities for healing and dealing with difficult sicknesses were more preferred than the bio-medical health facilities.
Ms Cynthia Nimo Ampredu, CEO of Human Rights Advocacy Centre, urged the MHA to identify clear areas of collaboration between the orthodox and traditional mental health care providers.
She said there was an urgent need for mental health service providers to develop specialised and preventive treatment services bearing in mind the factors that heightened vulnerability to mental illness.
Ms Ampredu also encouraged traditional mental health care providers to build their capacities to enable them to provide the right standard of care and support to their patients.