It may be new, pushing for mental health awareness in May. However,  that awareness creation has been on the global calendar for years. It is normally marked in October.

For better focus and attention therefore, and so as not to compete with and get drowned by other local or world celebrations during October, the Ministry of Health, the Mental Health Authority of Ghana, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Lady Julia Osei Tutu, Life Patron of EVE International, are championing a celebration of the entire month of May as Mental Health Awareness month in Ghana. 

Mental health awareness

For the sake of emphasis and to show how much attention the country needs to put on mental health awareness, the country is likely to come back in October to join the world to celebrate the already existing World Mental Health Day comparable to practices elsewhere.

Defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO, 1948), mental health is a "State of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". According to WHO, "There is no health without mental health".  

The WHO definition is absolutely clear with no ambiguity as to what could be classified as mental soundness. One should not therefore be deceived into thinking that because one's normal annual health checks tick off good, one is sound. What about one's mental health?


Overall, as one comes to think of it and in the absence of statistics, there is a lot that points to the fact that women mostly do suffer mental distress due to normal body changes, as well as the way society tends to treat them not forgetting accusations this same society sometimes unjustly pile on them. 

Women tend to suffer a lot of mental stress related to hormonal changes and sometimes after childbirth. Witchcraft labelling of older members of the society and the maltreatment such individuals go through, physical and mental abuses by spouses and partners and of course, general poverty and having to be dependent on husbands for their total needs all create a mental imbalance of a sort in women.

Looking at all that, the time really is now to increase general access to quality mental health and care with effective treatment in this country with particular reference to women who turn out to be the most vulnerable.

It is exactly for reasons such as this that we all as citizens are encouraged to collaborate with corporate partners and raise awareness through whatever means to educate the public, about mental health and help reduce the stigma that society places on sufferers.

Generally, in our part of the world, mental disorders often tend to be associated with persons who go half or naked and live out there on the street. They will talk and laugh to themselves and eat and drink from leftovers, sometimes left in open garbage.

But as the WHO defines it, mental disorders can happen even to the most seemingly physically healthy person. The one who lives with us works with us, worships with us, sits next to us in the commuter bus or taxis or studies with us.  

As one may be aware, mental disorders come in various psychiatric definitions including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, bipolar, depression, pregnancy-related mental health, psychosis and schizophrenia.

The mental health awareness celebration in May therefore enjoins all to spread the word to generate more and better awareness. The focus of the awareness campaign is scheduled to touch everybody with inclusive programmes for support groups. These will include community engagements, educational programmes, social media campaigns, corporate engagements and many more.

Eve International

For Eve International, one of its four strong pillars under the broader heading, "Women's Public Health", is mental health, particularly for Ghanaian women everywhere. EVE International is determined to recognise and address the mental health concerns of Ghanaian women, hence the urgency its Patron, Lady Julia, sees in being an ally of the joint awareness campaign coming up in May.

So, therefore, the upcoming month of mental health awareness comes right at the centre of Eve International's planned programmes. The Organisation will not only fully participate in the awareness creation in May but will continue throughout the year with its avowed aim to use advocacy to cause changes to legislation.  

Eve International is seriously looking at increased infrastructure and access to care and treatment for women suffering from mental health issues. With very little infrastructure available across the country, the Organisation aims to have evenly distributed centres across the country to be accessed by women who need help.

It is relieving news therefore that Eve International already has plans for an exclusive mental health and wellness rehab centre to be constructed in Kumasi. When available, the centre is to be accessed by sufferers in the middle, as well as the northern belts of the country.

One needs to be aware that just as we all take care of our bodies and aspire to stay healthier by eating healthy and exercising regularly, one also has to be intentional, in so doing, to take care of one's brain for an ultimately better mental health.

It is our collective duty to find time to join one or more of the programmes planned for painting Ghana purple in May as one engages and talks about mental health and wellness, throughout May.

And by the way, do not think it is a mistake when you see the purple colour up again in October. The Mental Health Awareness campaign will be back to continue from where it left off in May. The October campaign will be intentional and meant to create global emphasis.


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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.