Mental Health services users and advocates at a dissemination meeting on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, have called on the government of Ghana to prioritize investment in Mental Health.
They argue that there is clear evidence that the benefit of investing in mental health far outweighs the cost. These benefits, according to them, mostly come from gains in productivity when people with mental health conditions can play an active role in their communities and in the workplace.
In Ghana, It is estimated that nearly seven percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lost due to Psychological distress, compared with a Four percent loss of GDP to Malaria.
Ghana spends just 1.4 percent of total government health expenditure on mental health, and so the burden of mental ill-health continues to grow with serious consequences for the country’s economic and social development as well as the health and wellbeing of its people.
According to them, the cost of mental illness is extremely high as recent estimates put the global cost of depression and anxiety alone at 1.5 trillion US Dollars every year in lost productivity.
Speaking at a dissemination workshop in Accra on ‘Why Ghana Needs to Invest More in Mental Health’, Ms Abena Korkor Addo,a Service User and Mental Health advocate pointed out that investing in mental would have a transformative effect for Ghana, boosting economic growth and improving the health and wellbeing of its citizens.
The workshop was organized by the Mental Health Society of Ghana (MEHSOG) in collaboration with the Mental Health Authority and funded by the World Health Organization (WHO), UKaid and Ghana Somubi Dwumadie.
The event brought together mental health advocacy organizations, service users, the media and other interest groups.
Ms Addo lamented that mental health is not given the attention it deserves relative to the allocation of resources. This, she says, is as a result of the burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases which are given priority over mental health.
She mentioned that investing in mental health strengthens poverty reduction efforts while improving population health and reducing the burden on the health systems.
She thus called on the government to address the mental health impact of COVID-19 and the need to increase financial protection, skills and occupational training for people with mental health conditions.
She further called for the strengthening of Regional Mental Health Sub-Committees and the incorporation of Mental Health into the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Dr Sammy Ohene, Consultant Psychiatrist and a Lecturer at the University of Ghana Medical School that mental Health is so important that each and everyone must attach seriousness to it; because people with mental health disorders always have their judgment affected.
Dr Ohene explained that every person is affected by mental disorders and thus there is the need to invest more in the area.
On his part, Mr Humphrey Kofie, Executive Secretary of MEHSOG in his address thanked participants for honouring the invitation and requested of them to assist in pushing the government to allocate more resources into mental health care.