It is estimated that over 300 people living in various parts of the Western Region are suffering from severe mental disorders, while some few other residents are also suffering from moderate to mild mental disorders.
The issue of mental health is of great concern to individuals, families and nations due to its effect on human resource and quality of life.
Charles Vigbedor, Western regional mental health coordinator, revealed this during a press briefing on some aspects of the Mental Health Act (Act 846) in Takoradi yesterday.
He regretted that people with mental illness in Ghana had for a long time been excluded and abused.
“Evidence suggests that people with mental disorders do not enjoy the same rights in terms of self-determination and protection from exploitation and discrimination as people who do not suffer from mental illness do,” he added.
The Western regional mental health coordinator indicated that high rate of social stigmatisation made families of people with mental illness hide their patients away from the public.
Mr Vigbedor, therefore, urged the media to avoid the usage of certain stigmatising and dehumanising terms used to describe people with mental illness like ‘mad man’, ‘lunatic’ and ‘imbecile’ in their reportage.
He mentioned the law now required that when writing on mental issues, media personnel should consult experts on mental illness and be committed to the highest ethical reporting standards.
Mr Vigbedor appealed to journalists to help combat discrimination and stigmatisation against people with mental illness and rather seek to promote their human rights among others by educating the public about the Mental Health Act.
He regretted that some mentally deranged persons were sometimes kept at spiritual healing centres, popularly known as ‘prayer camps’.
The Western regional mental health coordinator mentioned that the patients were often chained to trees and forced to fast for weeks as part of a ‘healing process’ while being denied access to medications.
“These situations violate and breach the rights of persons with mental disorder. But those who violate the rights of persons with mental disorder are liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than five thousand penalty units,” he revealed.
Mr Vigbedor said the major health facilities for serious treatment of mental health related cases were centred in the Greater Accra, Central and Ashanti Regions, making it difficult for psychiatric patients to access treatment.
He, however, indicated that great efforts were being made to change the model of service provision to one which emphasises care in the communities.
Source: Daily Guide
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