PASS LEGISLATIVE INSTRUMENT AND COMMIT RESOURCES TO ENSURE FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MENTAL HEALTH ACT (ACT 846) – CDD-GHANA
Today, Wednesday, October 10, 2018 is being commemorated as World Mental Health Day and the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) on this occasion would like to congratulate all mental health practitioners, the Mental Health Authority and all those who have contributed in diverse ways to ensure that the country’s mental health system is running amidst all the challenges.
The World Health Organization (WHO), lists depression, excessive use of alcohol, drug abuse, stress and anxiety as some of the leading causes of mental illness. The Organization again indicates that half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14 and has therefore, highlighted the need to help young people build mental resilience from an early age to enable them cope with challenges of today’s world. With about 57% of Ghana’s population under the age of 25, the focus on the youth in this year’s Mental Health Day celebration which is under the theme: “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World,” is thus timely. Particularly, as concerns have arisen over the past few months regarding the rise in abuse of alcohol, hard drugs, and pain killers, specifically, tramadol among the youth in Ghana. In the face of the overwhelming number of youth without employment, coupled with harsh economic conditions which forms part of the triggers of youth vulnerability to mental distress, it is important to safeguard the future of our country by protecting the mental health of the youth to enable them contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of Ghana as they make up a greater percentage of the country’s workforce.
Six years after the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846) was passed, the absence of a Legislative Instrument (LI) to ensure effective implementation of the Act remains a challenge. This, coupled with insufficient resources allocated to mental healthcare, inadequate number of mental health professionals, cultural and traditional factors that impede the efficient delivery of mental health care, total disregard for the dignity and fundamental human rights of
mental health patients and absence of a governing board for the Mental Health Authority, should be matters of grave concern not only to government, but to citizens as well.
CDD-Ghana is thus, adding its voice to call for more attention to be paid to mental health in Ghana. The following needs to be done and done urgently:
- A Legislative Instrument (LI) should be presented to Parliament as soon as the House resumes sitting to ensure full operationalization of the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846).
- Government must provide adequate resources to all mental health centers across the country. With the 2019 budget expected to read in November, the Ministry of Finance should make sufficient provision for frontline mental health agencies
- Set up a Mental Health Fund
- Appoint a governing board for the Mental Health Authority, as well as provide the Authority with the needed resources to operate
- A collaboration between government institutions responsible for this sector, non-state actors including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media to educate the public on mental health issues
- Increase the number of mental health workers through better remuneration and education
- Double up job creation efforts to curb growing youth unemployment in order to reduce mental health triggers
This day presents a unique opportunity for government and all stakeholders to reflect and take steps to improve upon the existing structures to provide adequate support systems which would aid the delivery of quality mental health care to all citizens.