The Mental Health Society of Ghana has urged traditional healers to desist from torturing persons with mental problems under the pretext of treatment.

Executive Secretary of the Society, Humphrey Kofie, says such practices dehumanise the patients and end abusing their fundamental human rights.

“Mental health patients have rights and we need to respect such rights. I know it is a typical traditional dynamic that we are confronted with but these people should learn to manage the people within the constraints that we have. We shouldn’t flog them; we shouldn’t chain them and treat them as if they are not humans. It is a very bad practice”, he said.

He disclosed at an outreach programme in collaboration with Basic Needs, a Non-Governmental Organisation, to help over 100 people with mental needs at Twifu Praso in the Central Region.

According to him, in the rural part of the country, there is a growing number of people with mental health needs that require urgent attention, but these people go untreated.

This, he believes is as a result of  the inability on the part of families of patients to access basic mental health care in the rural areas due closeness to the psychiatric hospitals.

“This leaves them in the hands of churches and other traditional healers who flog, chain and humiliate them,” he said, adding, the absence of psychiatric hospital in all the ten regions has compounded the challenges.

Programme Officer of Basic Needs explained the outreach programme has become handy because of the increasing number of persons with mental health challenges in the community.

He said beneficiaries will be supported with a source of livelihood, taken through skill training, tools, and equipment, and given some financial credit to undertake various sustainable income activities.

The collaboration with the Society, he said will help the community ridden of persons with mental disorders.

Basic Needs is championing community-based integrated mental health care services that ensure quality medical and psychological treatment is provided to a majority of persons needing the services.

The organization operates a livelihood module that works to improve individual and family income in a way that directly incorporates the participation and contribution of people with mental illness or epilepsy in livelihoods activities.