Mr Fred Nantogmah, Knowledge and Communication Officer of Basic Needs Ghana, a health centered non-governmental organisation, has called for adequate budgetary allocation in the 2019 national budget to effectively tackle mental health problems in the country.
Currently, only 1.5 per cent of the total budget of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) is set aside for mental health, he said.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting in Sunyani to validate a checklist for resource support for community mental health, Mr Nantogmah said the issue of mental health remains a national worry which requires strong budgetary support.
The meeting, which was organized by the MIHOSO International Foundation, another health inclined NGO, and attended by District and Municipal Directors of Health, was also aimed at sensitising the participants on a mental health project being implemented by the two NGOs in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
With support from STAR Ghana and its development partners, the 36-month project titled: “Accessible and Quality Mental Health Care for Poor and Marginalised Persons with Mental Disorders”, is aimed at improving community mental health treatment through increased funding to the mental health service.
It is being implemented in Tano North, Sunyani, Techiman and Berekum Municipalities as well as Techiman North and Sunyani West Districts of the Brong-Ahafo Region.
Mr Nantogmah expressed regret with the lack of a Legislative Instrument (LI) to support the Mental Health Act 2012 (Act 846).
He said since the Act was passed in 2012 successive governments have not shown any political will to pass the LI to give a realistic interpretation of the Act, saying the lack of the LI remains a key impediment in funding mental health.
Mr Nantogmah appealed to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to direct the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to commit and allocate resources to community mental healthcare.
This, he said, would enable mental health patients, who have gradually become a burden in communities to easily access quality medical care for their treatment.
Dr Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu, the Chief Executive Officer of MIHOSO International Foundation, said mental illness could be treated if patients strictly adhered to directions with regards to their drugs.
Mental health problem, he said, was not a curse but a disability and advised care givers to ensure that patients take their drugs at the stipulated periods.
Mr Joseph Yere, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Mental Health Coordinator, expressed worry that intermittent shortages of drugs were impeding the recovery of many of the mental health patients in the region.
He said because of drug shortages, many care-givers and patients have relaxed and were not visiting health facilities for treatment.
Mr Yere said because drugs for mental illness were expensive, care-givers could not afford to buy them and appealed to NGOs and philanthropists to help in stocking the drugs.
Mr Thomas Benarkuu, the Director of Programmes of MIHOSO, said the project targeted men, women, boys and girls living with all forms of mental disorders and appealed to the Municipal and District Assemblies in the project areas to provide the needed support.