Director of Mind Freedom Ghana, an NGO, Dan Taylor has said that the state of mental healthcare in Ghana, is nothing to write home about.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, on Wednesday, he bemoaned the limited number of mental health facilities in the country as well as inadequate funds to support mental health patients and advocacy.
“We have three main psychiatric hospitals based in the Southern part of the country. For people in other parts of the country with mental health conditions, they would have to come down all the way to the south. This is quite troubling.”
Through government’s Agenda 111 initiative, he said two more psychiatric hospitals would be built in the middle and northern parts of Ghana to ensure that the ordinary Ghanaian, irrespective of the region in which they live, have access to quality mental healthcare.
The Agenda 111 project was launched by President Akufo-Addo on August 17, 2021. The project will cover the design, procurement, construction, equipping and commissioning of 101 District Hospitals, six Regional Hospitals in the newly created regions, as well as one Regional Hospital in the Western Region, two Psychiatric Hospitals in Kumasi and Tamale and a redeveloped Accra Psychiatric Hospital.
Although mental healthcare is free by policy, he said the situation is different on the ground and in some hospitals, patients do pay for treatment.
“The issue of the mental health fund is also captured in the mental health policy. The fund has been established. But then the sources of funding to feed the fund is still an issue.”
With Ghanaians receiving subsidised healthcare benefits with the National Health Insurance System (NHIS), Mr Taylor said that incorporating mental healthcare into the NHIS system would be something he would love the government to initiate.
“The issues have to do with the scarcity of funding from government sources. The funding is not adequate. The issue too has to do with this policy that because mental health is free, not much money is pumped into that area for people to access care.”
He disclosed that due to lack of funds, his NGO has come across situations whereby “people have had to come to us to support them to buy their medication. And these medications are so important in the treatment of mental health conditions”.
He advised the government to work ‘gingerly’ at addressing all the underlying issues constraining the provision of quality mental healthcare in the country.
“What has happened in previous times is that mental health was not an issue to most bodies. Let me say, the Ministry for that matter. It was not considered as an issue. It is now that statutory bodies are beginning to appreciate the need to invest in mental healthcare. That is something we really need to address as a nation.
“Especially with the mental health fund. The idea behind is that once there is money in the mental health fund, that would be the source of funding for mental healthcare in our country. And of course, that would fund the free mental health care. But it’s not there. And that’s the problem”.
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