Health officials in the Kwabre East District of the Ashanti Region say they are partnering spiritualists to provide what they describe as holistic therapy to address rising spate of mental illness in the area.

Reported cases of mental illness increased from 192 in 2013 to 330 last year, up by 41 per cent.

Medical experts attribute the worrying trend to alcoholism among pregnant women. Corporal punishment, especially, striking children in the head is also cited as one of the leading causes of mental disorder.

According to District Psychiatrist, Dr. Jason Raymond Daagbeseme "Most people in the district especially women abuse alcohol.  You will see a woman who is pregnant expecting a baby and abusing alcohol".

“While the mother is consuming the alcohol the unborn child is also consuming it so by the time he/she is born the development of the brain is affected,” he explained.

The official revealed studies indicate that a child subjected to excessive hitting of his head stands a high risk of suffering from mental health problems.

“If you hit the child hard on the head because he/she is a child, it affects the brain and most cases lead to mental health later in the life of the child,” he added.

Dr. Daagbeseme told an annual performance review session that stakeholder support is needed to curtail the trend. The district is therefore working with spiritualists to address this situation.

Action plan

The Kwabre East Health Directorate has put in place an action plan that involves all the healing and spiritual centres within the district to streamline the best way to address the issue.

This he said has become necessary because of the spirituality of the African man.

“Most people who suffer mental health conditions resort to spiritual camps than hospitals”.

According to them, since the human body is both spiritual and physical, these spiritual centres will attend to the spiritual aspect then the hospitals will do the physical.

“We have given them referral forms so that when the people come there they will assess the situation and let us know. They are supposed to refer them to our facility for physical assessment then we will give them medications, then they will go to these prayer camps, stay with them and take their medications under their supervision.

“Those who cannot, we will go to the prayer or spiritual camps and ensure we stabilize the situation so that they get well both spiritually and physically”, he said.

Dr. Daagbeseme revealed that the health directorate has begun educating these healing, spiritual camps and centers on mental health and the causes.

District Health Director, Dr. Kwabena Boateng Boakye is positive these initiatives will bring the required results.