Accra, July 26, GNA – Regional Directors of Health Services and Regional Community Mental Health Coordinators, have been engaged at a two-day national review meeting in Accra, to discuss effective strategy to scale-up community mental health integrated into primary health care.
The meeting, which opened on Monday, would provide the platform for regional authorities responsible for health care services, together with the national office of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and other key stakeholders such as the Mental Health Association of Ghana, to share best practices on how community mental health was evolving in the regions and lower levels of health services.
Mr Baima Peter Yaro, the Executive Director of BasicNeeds said it was a joint initiative of the non-governmental organisation and the Office of the Director-General of the GHS, and an expanded form of the Organisation’s periodic engagements with Directors of Health Services over the years, to promote collaboration in enhancing mental health service delivery at the community level.
This he said would bring forth the strengths and challenges of the process and also show the various areas of needs for further support.
Dr Linda Vanotoo, the Greater Accra Regional Director of Health Service, who chaired the programme, advocated the need to make mental health visible.
She urged Ghanaians to be very concerned about mental health as the ailment could affect anybody and also an old age problem.
Ms Susan Clapham, a Health Advisor at the DFID, said the Government invests more into mental health care, to safeguard patient’s treatment and also the future of the country.
She also called for a change in the negative societal perception and attitudes towards mental health issues, and also desist from stigmatising patients, as these violates the provisions of the Mental Health Act.
Dr Akwasi Osei, the Chief Psychiatrist, said with the new Mental Health Act, treatment for mental health is being decentralised from the previous emphasis on specialised psychiatric hospitals, and currently been incorporated into the primary health care system.
He said the aim among other things is to eliminate stigma and other negative perceptions about mental health, and to solicit for family and community support for effective treatment regimes.
He said the process is gradual, which requires massive funding support and collaboration from stakeholders.