Prioritize mental health services – Govt told

The Mental Health Authority (MHA) together with the World Health Organisation and Ghana Somubi Dwumedie (GSD), has called on the government to commit greater investment in mental health.

The Authority said the government must invest in mental health to support improved access to psychotropic medicines, strengthened governance and accountability measures.

Mrs Caroline Amissah, Deputy Executive Director, MHA, said mental health could be included in the National Health Insurance Scheme benefits package.

Mrs Amissah was delivering a statement at the joint press launch of the 2021 Mental Health Week Celebration in Accra.

This year’s celebration falls on Sunday, October 10, 2021, on the theme “Mental Health in an Unequal World”, meant to highlight the inequalities in mental health among other health conditions.

She said investments would help support Ghana’s economic growth, strengthen poverty reduction efforts and improve population health and reduce the burden on the health system.

Mrs Amissah said the joint launch marked the commencement of a week-long campaign to project mental health, raise awareness about the unequal allocation of resources to the mental health system that had impacted negatively on the delivery and utilisation of mental health services.

“It is to make a strong case for increased investment in mental health,” she added.

She said the world was currently grappling with the negative effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, which had exposed the inequalities on health outcomes and mental health outcomes in particular, for which no country, despite their wealth had been adequately prepared.

“The outcome of this inadequacy is evident in every aspect of delivery and utilisation of mental health services, and calls for greater commitment to investing in mental health to significantly reverse infrastructural inadequacies and increase the number of mental health professionals,” she added.

The Deputy Executive Director said the pandemic had and would continue to affect people, of all ages, in many ways, through infection and illness, economic impact through job losses and job insecurity, physical distancing, which could all lead to social isolation that could contribute to psychological distress for some.
“Interventions they deal with resulting in detrimental mental health outcomes is inevitable and we need to be prepared for it by ensuring a greater investment in our mental health system,” he said.

She called for the implementation of the Mental Health Levy to support operations of the MHA, corporate organisational support, and for Assemblies to make budgetary allocations for mental health.

Dr Amma Npomaa Boadu, Deputy Director, Mental Health, Ghana Health Service, said the theme for this year’s celebration was apt considering the current situation because the impact of the pandemic had further deepened the already existing inequalities that existed in the world which was worse in Ghana.

“We cannot continue with the way we have been handling issues of mental health in the country because the pandemic had exposed the inequalities and there is the need to attend to the situation as it presents itself and see how to further prevent any such future occurrences,” she said.

Dr Boadu said there was also the need to commit to investing in mental health as a nation, and government must heed the call for mental health care to be a reality in an even more unequal world during this time and beyond.

Mr Emmanuel Osei Mensah, GSD, said the pandemic had indeed further worsened the inequalities in all phases of human life including mental health, and it had shown that nobody was fully immune to mental health difficulty, thus anyone could be a victim of mental health.

He said according to the World Federation for Mental Health, between 75 and 95 per cent of people in low and middle-income countries were unable to access mental health services, hence the need to address these inequalities in the existing gaps in accessing mental health services.

Mr Osei Mensah said the call for greater investment in mental health was premised on the fact that financing mental health had a positive catalytic effect on supporting Ghana’s effort to achieving universal health coverage.

Activities for the celebration includes youth community volunteer sensitization, community mental health sensitisation, a Seminar on the state of Mental Health, a Roundtable meeting, and media engagement.

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