The recent World Health Organization (WHO) report on mental health in Ghana is a wake-up call for the nation to take swift action.
According to the report, nearly 2.4 million Ghanaians may be grappling with various degrees of mental illness.
In an interview with JoyNews’ “Foreign Affairs,” Professor Francis Kasalo, the World Health Organization representative to Ghana, expressed deep concern regarding this trend.
Myjoyonline quotes Professor Kasalo as saying, “It is in Ghana, for example, out of a population of almost thirty million plus, it is estimated that almost 2.4 million have a form of mental illness. That’s not a small number, and if you are looking at that number, why are we not investing in ensuring that those people receive appropriate care? So the numbers are huge”.
He pointed out that one major challenge in delivering mental healthcare in Ghana is the public’s attitude toward mental health issues, often treating them lightly.
Additionally, individuals suffering from mental illnesses are frequently stigmatized, perceived as difficult, or unfairly associated with anger or even spiritual problems.
He emphasized that, “People should understand that we can build capacities for people who we assume are difficult people to be able to access these services to understand why they are behaving like that”.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, these figures are not only staggering, but also highlight the urgent need to address the root causes of mental illness in Ghana.
The government should address the issue by creating enlightenment campaigns to drum the need for people to take mental illness serious.
In Ghana, as in most countries in Africa, lack of access to basic care is posing a challenge where mental health is concerned.
In our opinion, one effective way of combating mental illness, is to put in place adequate health insurance policy that is easily affordable.
This is important because the high cost of healthcare delivery in the country is giving rise to people not wanting to seek professional help when it comes to mental illness.