The CEO of the Mental Health Authority has called on the Government to incorporate mental health education into the educational curriculum of the country.
Dr Akwasi Osei said that would help the youth to become aware of mental health conditions and be informed on support systems for persons who were challenged manage such situations well.
“ Educating the younger generation on the subject would be instrumental in demystifying certain views the public had about persons with mental health conditions,” he said.
Dr Osei said this at a panelled discussion in Accra to mark this year’s Mental Health Day on the theme: “Working Together to Prevent Suicide - A Call for National Action.”
“The myth that persons who are afflicted with mental conditions are cursed is not really the case,” he expressed.
He called on chiefs and traditional leaders to put in efforts to defuse such thoughts from the minds of their subjects.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Owen Kaluwa, said the Education Sector could implement school-based interventions to offer mental health support for adolescents to save them from suicidal tendencies.
Research indicates that 800,000 people commit suicide globally, each year, and was the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.
Dr Kaluwa said researchers could conduct quantitative studies to identify cultural relevant risk factors and how they applied in the Ghanaian context.
The Country Director DFID/UKaid, Phillip Smith, said the United Kingdom Government, through DFID, was supporting Ghana to achieve a paradigm shift in the health sector to ensure mental healthcare was delivered as an essential component of Universal Health Coverage.
He said more was needed to overturn stigma and discrimination and support the full and active inclusion of people with mental health conditions.
In November the UKaid would support a programme to tackle stigma among the urban youth, who are among the most vulnerable but also the key to securing Ghana’s future.
The Executive Director of Basic Needs-Ghana, Peter Badimak Yaro, said the event formed part of civil society activities to create political will and advocacy to raise the profile of mental health in Ghana and beyond.
He said it was the moral and legal obligation of the Government to safeguard the human rights of the citizens, especially those affected by mental illness.
He alerted the Government to support persons who attempted suicide and survivors that the act should not be criminalised but seen from the lenses of a mental condition.
The event was jointly organised by BasicNeeds-Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation advocating mental Health, UKaid, SpeakYourMind, and Alliance for Mental Health and Development.