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MindFreedom Ghana chastises state authorities for neglecting Mental Health issues

MindFreedom Ghana, a mental health advocacy organization has blamed state actors for not prioritizing issues relative to mental health in the country.

MindFreedom’s reaction was triggered by a recent news report by: myjoyonline.com https://www.myjoyonline.com/mentally-challenged-woman-stones-man-todeath-at-kwame-nkrumah-circle/ with the Headline, “Mentally challenged woman stones man to death at Kwame Nkrumah Circle on 1st August, 2022.”   

In a Press statement signed  and  issued in Accra by Mr Dan Taylor, Executive Secretary of MindFreedom Ghana,  the  Organization noted that,” this rather unfortunate and very sad incident could have been prevented had the relevant state actors prioritized mental health issues and given them the needed attention they deserve. We nevertheless express our profound condolences to the bereaved family of the deceased.”

 In the statement, MindFreedom argued  that the  coming into force of  the  Mental Health Act, 2012, Act 846  is to respond to, and address the numerous challenges facing the mental health delivery and human rights of persons with mental health conditions in the country.

The Statement  explained, “pertaining to the dreadful incident at Circle, we must draw attention to some clauses in Section 73, sub-sections 4 to 7 of the Act which succinctly states as follows: (4) A District Assembly is responsible for the well-being of persons with mental disorders found in public places in the district (5) A District Assembly shall liaise with the police, social welfare and health authorities to remove persons with mental disorder who are a danger to themselves or to others and found in public places in the to a facility or mental health facility for treatment and rehabilitation (6) A District Assembly shall ensure, in consultation with the appropriate agencies that a person with mental disorder found in a public place, after treatment is adequately rehabilitated and integrated back into the society (7) A District Assembly shall make adequate budgetary allocation for the care of persons with mental disorders found in public places within the district from the foregoing clauses, it is very clear and definite that provisions have been adequately to cater for persons with mental health conditions in public spaces and what MUST be done to have them treated and rehabilitated.”

 The Statement  reiterated  MindFreedom’s call on the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance to commit the requisite resources to the Mental Health Fund for the proper and effective running of mental health activities in the country.

See the full statement below:

 PRESS STATEMENT

MindFreedom Ghana’s attention has been drawn to the news story carried by: myjoyonline.com https://www.myjoyonline.com/mentally-challenged-woman-stones-man-todeath-at-kwame-nkrumah-circle/ with the caption, “Mentally challenged woman stones man to death at Kwame Nkrumah Circle on 1st August, 2022”. We wish to state that, this rather unfortunate and very sad incident could have been prevented had the relevant state actors prioritized mental health issues and given them the needed attention they deserve. We nevertheless express our profound condolences to the bereaved family of the deceased.

 With a population of nearly 32 million people, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that approximately 13% of the population in Ghana suffer from a mental disorder, of which 3% suffer from severe mental disorders and the other 10% suffer from moderate to mild mental disorders (WHO, 2007). In response to these challenges and other factors, Parliament in 2012 responded by enacting the Mental Health Act, 2012, Act 846 after series of advocacy activities our organization was deeply involved in.

The Act main object is to respond to and address the numerous challenges facing the mental health delivery and human rights of persons with mental health conditions in the country. In the Act, it clearly among other issues stipulates the establishment of a governing body known as the Mental Health Authority with the responsibilities of (a) Proposing mental health policies and ensure their implementation; (b) implement mental health policies; (c) Promote mental health and provide humane care including treatment and rehabilitation in a least restrictive environment; (d) Protect the rights of and responsibilities persons with mental disorders; (e) Promote a culturally appropriate, affordable, accessible and equitably distributed, integrated and specialized mental health care that will involve both the public and the private Sector.

To ensure that Mental Health Authority function effectively, the Act made provisions for the formations of critical committees such as the Regional and District Mental Health SubCommittees, the Mental Health Review Tribunals, and the Visiting Committees among others.

Additionally, the Act in Section 80 provides for the establishment of a Mental Health Fund which has been done. Moneys for the Funds include the following: (a) voluntary contributions to the Fund from individuals, organizations and the private sector; (b) moneys approved by Parliament for payment into the Fund; (c) grants from bilateral and multilateral sources; (d) donations and gifts; and (e) moneys from any other source approved by the Minister responsible for Finance.

 It is however sad to relate that as of now, the fixing of levies and the sources to derive from to put into the Fund have still not been determined by the Minister of Finance followed with Parliament approval.

For that reason, no monies are accruing currently on a regular basis into the Fund. The challenges since the passage of the Act in 2012 are that: there have not been funding committed to the Mental Health Fund to help ensure effective and efficient running of mental health activities in the country, the committees that were supposed to provide mental health critical support services at the district, regional, and national levels have still not been formed due to lack of funds. These in essence have made mental health service delivery in the country very challenging.

 Despite efforts by the various NGOs such as ours through advocacy activities and evidence-based research findings, investment cases in mental health aimed at informing government about the implications of non-investment in mental health, there have been little gains from these collective efforts. Pertaining to the dreadful incident at Circle, we must draw attention to some clauses in Section 73, sub-sections 4 to 7 of the Act which succinctly states as follows: (4) A District Assembly is responsible for the well-being of persons with mental disorders found in public places in the district (5) A District Assembly shall liaise with the police, social welfare and health authorities to remove persons with mental disorder who are a danger to themselves or to others and found in public places in the to a facility or mental health facility for treatment and rehabilitation (6) A District Assembly shall ensure, in consultation with the appropriate agencies that a person with mental disorder found in a public place, after treatment is adequately rehabilitated and integrated back into the society (7) A District Assembly shall make adequate budgetary allocation for the care of persons with mental disorders found in public places within the district From the foregoing clauses, it is very clear and definite that provisions have been adequately to cater for persons with mental health conditions in public spaces and what MUST be done to have them treated and rehabilitated.

Mental Health Authority has since its establishment already engaged all the stakeholders especially the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in the clauses above on various occasions to do the needful but very unfortunately the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in particularly have woefully failed to make the budgetary allocations for the purposes outlined.

Our organization had on its part in its advocacy and awareness creation activities nationwide drawn attention of these clauses and asked the citizenry to hold to account the MMDAs and through their Assembly Members get them to make the necessary budgetary allocations aforementioned. Sadly enough, these have not been complied with as far as we can confidently say.

 It must be mentioned that way back in 2015, the Accra Psychiatric Hospital embarked on an exercise dubbed “Operation clear the streets” which was about picking persons with mental health conditions found in public spaces in Accra.

The exercise went very well with many of such persons numbering over 300 who were taken to the hospital for treatment and later taken back to their communities for re-integration.

 Regrettably, this exercise could not be sustained because of shortage of funds to cater for the treatment processes and concomitant expenses.

In the light of the foregoing, MindFreedom Ghana wishes to reiterate its call on the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance to commit the requisite resources to the Mental Health Fund for the proper and effective running of mental health activities in the country.

This would have ensured, evaluation, treatment, and re-integration of people with mental disorders in the streets back to their families. Furthermore, the MMDAs which are totally responsible for people with mental illnesses within their respective jurisdictions as stipulated by the Act, MUST make the budgetary allocations to cater for their treatment at the hospitals and the necessary re-integration into their communities.

Dan A. Taylor

Source: Publicagendagh.com

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