Vice President John Dramani Mahama has promised to use his office to support the early passage of the Mental Health Bill into law, and also raise awareness among the public about Mental Health. This, he says, was to ensure the provision of safe and effective mental health care in Ghana.
The Mental Health Bill is currently before Parliament, and Veep Mahama says he would dialogue with the leadership of Parliament and the Ministry of Health about any bottlenecks that presently exist, to facilitate its early passage.
Speaking during an interaction with the Faculty, Resource Persons and Ghanaian Participants in the Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Institute (GHLI), Mr. Mahama acknowledged that in many countries, including Ghana, there had been a neglect of mental health.
“Often, we have concentrated on some areas of health like tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, which have received lots of attention. Mental health is one of the areas we have neglected for too long,” he noted.
The Vice President agreed that the low awareness on Mental Health, and the stigma associated with it, required strong governmental support to change.
According to him, President John Atta Mills had already demonstrated that support when he visited the Accra Psychiatric Hospital recently. The government has also started facility expansion works at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital.
Ghana has three public psychiatric hospitals, with only 12 psychiatrics and no Occupational Therapist. It is estimated that Ghana has a psychiatric treatment gap of 98%.
Mental health currently, takes only 3.6% of the overall health budget, and according to Vice President Mahama, the component that goes to mental health must be looked at.
Ghana was part of five countries that participated in the Yale GHIL 2011 programme.
The Ghanaian participants included Dr. Frank Nyonator, Director of Policy Planning at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Akwasi Osei, Chief Psychiatrist of Ghana, Dr. Angela Ofori-Atta, a Professor of Clinical Psychology, Joseph Akati Saaka, MP for Bole Bamboi and Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, Head of Policy Analysis at the Ministry of Health, and Deputy Health Minister, Mr. Rojo Mettle-Nunoo.