THE Kintampo Users and Carers Association (an association of people with mental disorders who have undergone treatment) and the Mental Health and Poverty Project (MHaPP) based at the Kintampo Health Research Centre, have added their voice to the call on the Government to pass the Mental Health Bill.
According to them, the bill holds the key to the success of integrating mental health into primary health care, which would also provide the resources and legal backing for the protection of the human rights of the mentally ill in he society.
The group made the call at a forum at Kintampo as part of activities marking this year’s World Mental Health Day.
It was on the theme: “Mental health in primary health care: Enhancing treatment and promoting mental health” to raise public awareness of mental health issues.
To mark the day, members of the association and students from the Kintampo Senior High School (SHS) went on a procession through some principal streets of Kintampo to further deepen awareness creation on mental health issues in the municipality.
They carried placards, some of which read “Pass the Mental Health Bill”, “Seek treatment for your relatives”, “No health without mental health”, “Mental illness is curable” and “Approximately 450 million people have mental illness”.
At the forum, Mr Edward Adiibokah, a Research Fellow of MHaPP at the Kintampo Research Centre, said situational analysis of mental health services in Ghana conducted by the MHaPP in 2007 revealed that legislation and institutions meant to provide services and to protect the human rights of the mentally ill people in Ghana were poorly resourced, ineffective and antiquated.
He said the mentally ill were excluded from social protection strategies and exemptions for the poor such as the poverty alleviation funds and the District Assembly’s Common Fund for the disabled.
Mr Adiibokah stated that the passage and implementation of the Mental Health Bill held the key to the successful integration of mental health into primary health.
He said the MHaPP was a cross-country study, involving four African nations, namely Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and the Zambia.
The Chairman of the Kintampo Users and Carers Association, Mr Mohammed Adjei Dickson, said they decided to come together to form the association, because “we realised that we have similar problems such as stigma, high levels of disability, double disease burden, unemployment, media stereotyping, among others”.
He said the association had membership of over 800 and was still growing.
Mr Adjei Dickson stated that the day afforded them the opportunity to let their voice be heard that “we are people with needs and rights”.
A Senior Psychiatric Nurse at Kintampo, Madam Mary Lamptey, said treatment for mental illness was absolutely free, and therefore called on all and sundry to seek early treatment, since mental illness was curable.
Giving some key facts on mental health, Madam Lamptey said mental disorders were common and about one out of eight (12-48 per cent) of all people would suffer from mental disorders at some point during their life, adding that there were more than 75 million people with alcohol use disorders and more than 15 million people with other substance use disorders in the world.