Let’s stop stigma and prioritise mental health -MHA Board Chair

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Mental health is a critical but often overlooked issue in Ghana, with limited resources and awareness dedicated to addressing mental health challenges in the country. In light of this, the Board Chair of the Mental Health Authority (MHA) in Ghana Lawyer Estelle Appiah Mental is calling for a prioritisation of mental health initiatives to ensure that the mental well-being of Ghanaians is adequately supported and promoted. The Month of May has been declared by the Mental Health Authority as the Purple Monthfor creating awareness on mental health.

Speaking at the National launch of Purple Month by Mental Health Authority in Accra, Board Chair of the authority Lawyer Estelle Appiah Mental said ” The enactment of the Mental Health Authority Act, 2012 (Act 846), which gave birth to the Mental Health Authority was groundbreaking. It marked a pivotal moment that reflected the government and stakeholders’ commitment to prioritize mental well-being. As an authority, remain remain steadfast in our commitment to address these challenges head-on. We instantly seek sustainable financing for community mental healthcare.

We need to amplify the voices and safeguard the rights of those with live mental health challenges. We must invest in inclusive programmes, policies, legislation, and currently, the Board is engaged in post- legislative scrutiny of the Mental Health Act to ensure that it continues to be responsive to the mental health challenges of the country, ten years post enactment”.

According to Lawyer Estelle Appiah, “We must not overlook the myriad challenges which lie ahead including the lack of sustainable financing, for mental health promotion, and insufficient human resources. The encroachment on land and infrastructural challenges faced by our mental health facilities and brain drain of our mental health personnel. The persistent human rights abuses and discrimination faced by individuals who have mental health disorders are also a problem”.

Current situation

Ghana faces significant mental health challenges, with high rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders affecting a large portion of the population. However, the country’s mental health system is underfunded, understaffed, and lacks the necessary infrastructure to provide adequate care for those in need. The stigma surrounding mental health also prevents individuals from seeking help, further exacerbating the problem. As a result, many Ghanaians continue to suffer in silence, without access to the support and treatment they require.

Call to action

The Chairperson of the Mental Health Authority Board in Ghana Lawyer Estelle Appiah is calling for urgent action to prioritise mental health in the country. This includes increasing funding for mental health services, expanding the mental health workforce, and implementing awareness campaigns to reduce stigma and encourage individuals to seek help.

It is crucial that mental health is integrated into all aspects of healthcare, including primary care, to ensure that individuals receive timely and appropriate support. Apart from that, mental health education should be incorporated into school curricula to promote mental well-being from a young age.

Speech by MHA Board Chair Estelle Appiah:

Purple Month Launch – Board Chair’s Speech

Contributing to the debate, Chief Executive of Mental Health Authority Prof. Pinaman Appiah has urged stakeholders to use the Purple Month to foster supportive environment where mental health is prioritised. According to her, stigma prevents mental health patients from seeking appropriate help. She noted that ” “I urge each of you to engage wholeheartedly in the Purple Month activities including media, campaigns, local events, educational programmes and social media initiatives. Let’s embrace Purple Month as an opportunity to foster a supportive environment where mental well-being is prioritised and every individual has the opportunity thrive”.

Meanwhile, Her Royal Highness Lady Julia Osei Tutu has called for an end to stigmatization against mental health patients.

Meanwhile, Chief Director of the Health Ministry in a speech read on his behalf by Dr. Ignatius Awinibuno, Director of Programmes in-charge of Allied Health at Health Ministry called for urgent steps to fix challenges facing mental health sub sector.

Purple Month launch media brief:

Purple Month Launch – Media Brief

Conclusion
Prioritising mental health in Ghana is essential to ensuring the overall well-being of the population. By investing in mental health services, raising awareness, and reducing stigma, we can create a more supportive environment for those struggling with mental health challenges.

It is time to recognise mental health as a priority and take decisive action to improve the mental well-being of all Ghanaians. Let us come together to support and advocate for mental health initiatives in Ghana, and ensure that those in need receive the care and support they deserve.

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