A psychiatrist at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital has called for a youth-friendly approach to addressing the menace of suicide.

Dr. John-Paul Omuojine believes the digital age provides many tools for reaching out, especially, to the youth. 

“In this age, when your target audience is young people, they respond better to social media, videos, poetry, pictures, entertainment. It goes along to spark an interest in mental health and build a healthier life,” he said.

He was speaking at a forum to mark World Mental Health Month in Kumasi.

The World Health Organisation ranks suicide as the second leading cause of death among young people between 15 and 29 years.

The rates, according to the global organization, almost tripled between the 1960s and 1980s. 

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Dr. Omuojine who is a member of FreeThink Consult, a mental health professionals group, says the situation demands innovation to overcome. 

Free Think has in the last three years offered psychiatry, psychotherapy, substance use disorder and rehabilitation services across Ghana.

Dr. Omuojine called on the government to provide infrastructure and encourage more doctors to specialise in psychiatry in order to close the treatment gap.

 “The treatment gap is 98 percent. That is of every 100 people  who have treatable mental disease in Ghana, only two have access to it,” he stressed.

The event attracted students from selected second-cycle school in Ashanti Region.

Video presentation, poetry and music on suicide were used to drive the discussion.
Coordinator of the Ashanti Region Student Representative Council, Raphael Sarkodie entreated teachers to encourage interaction with students.

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He says swift reporting of students battling suicidal thoughts to authorities is crucial in efforts to seek intervention.

“If they don’t have confidence in the teacher, they can’t share their thoughts. Sometimes you find very few who feel comfortable speaking with their teachers,” he observed.

The Medical Students Association of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology partnered FreeThink to stage the event.

President, Hameed Nii Addy, says the group has intensified efforts to sensitize students in both second-cycle and tertiary institutions.

“We feel it’s necessary we extend our services to not only the medical school and university campus but the Junior and Senior High schools.” He pledged.

Westphalian Medical Centre provided free eye screening.