A mental health advocacy organisation, BasicNeeds-Ghana, has held a two-day training workshop on mental health and disability mainstreaming and inclusion reporting for media professionals in Accra.

The workshop is part of the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie (Ghana Participation Programme), which is being funded by the UK Government.

The Ghana Somubi Dwumadie is a 4-year inclusion programme run by Options Consultancy Limited in partnership with BasicNeeds-Ghana, Kings College London, Sightsavers International and Tropical Health.  

It focuses on 4 key areas; promoting stronger policies and systems that respect the rights of people with disabilities, including people with mental health disabilities; and scaling-up high quality and accessible mental health services.

The rest are reducing stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities; and generating evidence to inform policy and practice on the effectiveness of disability and mental health programmes and interventions.

According to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

The World Bank, 2016, “Ghana: Social Protection Assessment and Public Expenditure Review” revealed that 20 per cent of the population are with some form of disability in Ghana.

Knowledge Management and Communications Officer for BasicNeeds-Ghana, Mr Fred Nantogmah, who spoke on the topic: “Things to Consider When Finding the Stories and the Sources on Disability,” said the disability community was a multi-cultural, multi-faceted community; including members of every marginalized group.

He noted that disabilities could be both visible and invisible and that anyone could become mentally ill or disabled at any point in their lives.

He reiterated that journalists’ interest in people with disability should be based on principle.

Mr Nantogmah, who urged journalists to seek out actual people with disability to talk about disability, also advised them to broaden their coverage of stories about disability.

He also noted that they were undertaking a range of activities to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities.

Team Leader of Ghana Somubi Dwumadie, Madam Lydia Dwan-Kamara, said the workshop aimed to equip journalists with the knowledge on how to report on people with disabilities and mental health issues without hurting people’s feelings.

She appealed to journalists to be sensitive in their reportage on people with disabilities or mental health issues.

The Programme Advisor on Disability Inclusion for Ghana Somubi Dwumadie, Mr Peter Kwasi Anomah-Kordieh, said writing about disability was complicated and required sensitivity.

 “If you are in doubt about how to refer to a person, ask the person and if you cannot ask the person, do not avoid writing about disability.”

He advised media professionals to refer to a disability only when it was relevant to the story and when the diagnosis comes from a reputable source, such as a medical professional or other licensed professional.

“When possible, use people-first language unless otherwise indicated by the source. When possible, ask the source how he or she would like to be described.”

Communications Manager, Ghana Somubi Dwumadie, Mr Nurudeen Salifu, said the study had shown that globally, there was a high incidence of poverty among persons with disabilities as compared to those without disabilities.

He intimated that persons without disabilities in terms of their vulnerability to mental health were much lower as compared to those with disabilities.

He, therefore, advocated for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals for with persons with disabilities.

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