The cruel manner of how some elders connived with parents to end the life of a child suffering from mental disorder popped up at a meeting of mental healthcare practitioners.

The child (identity withheld) had the life terminated by the parents and some  elders of Mile 14, when the infant believed to be ‘Nsuoba’ (River Baby) was put on a stream in the farming community at dawn.

Not even the arrival of mental health team dispatched to the area could save the life of the poor baby who exhibited signs of mental-neurologic condition.

A Mental Health Nurse at the St. Peter’s Hospital at Jacobu who led the team of practitioners arrived at the community after the incident.

Francis Kwaku Addoe recounted how some elders responded to their arrival in the area after they took them through specialist care and support available for such children with special needs.

“There was a situation I witnessed that a child had to be sent back because they said he is an ‘Nsuoba’.

“It had to be put back on the water for the child to be sent away,” he said.

“I went on an outreach but unfortunately, I got there very late and on meeting the elders of the community to explain to them why we came there, I was given this information that I didn’t come early because at dawn, they sent a child back to where the child was coming from.

“They said the child was an ‘Nsuoba’ so he was sent back to the rivers from which the child was given to,” Mr. Addoe recounted.

Mental Health Practitioners
Mental Health Practitioners in Ashanti region at the training workshop

The revelation comes at a time when mental health practitioners are advocating for public support for children with mental health needs.

They say despite improved service delivery and availability of trained care providers, some belief systems continue to encourage the abuse of children with mental disorders.

The practitioners want to see an end to such beliefs that have led to the killing and abuse of many children.

“Children that are called “Nsuoba” (River babies), “Bosom Ba” (Son of Deity)  and other stuff, they are being treated in inhumane way,” Mr. Addoe observed.

Participants at a day’s workshop on Mental Health organized for caregivers in the Ashanti region on Friday September 3, 2021 gave different accounts of how some children with mental disorder are abused and killed.

The discussion focused on why, despite improved resources and trained workers, children with mental illnesses continue to suffer.

Participants included Community Mental Health Nurses, Clinical Psychiatric officers and Community Mental Health Officers.

A Child and Adolescent Health Specialist at KATH, Dr. Ruth Charlotte Sackey, observed that until such beliefs are eradicated, many more children with mental-neurologic disorders will continue to be abused.

“The kind of belief systems that have been attached to disorders that are related to what we call mental-neurologic children are very disturbing,” she said.

“In our communities, these children are suffering, receiving harsh treatment  and punishments, being neglected  and some as bad as being dumped into rivers just because the belief system is that these children emanated from river bodies  or they are demons or evil spirits,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Ashanti Regional Mental Health Coordinator, Faustina Nuako underscored the need to continuously build capacity of mental healthcare practitioners to identify and support such children in their areas of operations.

“Sometimes taking care of the children who have developmental conditions is a bit of a challenge for them. Though they have knowledge of taking care of them, sometimes there are challenges so we organized this for them to upgrade their knowledge and also learn about new ways in taking care of these children.”