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Mental Health Review Tribunal, Visiting Committees inaugurated


By Sarah Ofori

The Mental Health Review Tribunal and Visiting Committees have been inaugurated in Accra to ensure that the fundamental rights of the mentally ill are respected and not violated.

This milestone, although long overdue, is being piloted in about five regions due to financial constraints in the interim. The establishment of the tribunal and visiting committees are a requirement of the Mental Health Act 846, 2012.

The story is told of a young female medical student who had mental health break down due to a broken heart. She spent twenty-five years of her life, bound in chains at prayer camps until she was rescued and given orthodox treatment. Such persons whose fundamental rights have been abused, or violated may file an appeal at the Mental Health Review Tribunal to conduct investigations into the manner in which they were cared for during the treatment process.

The Visiting Committees, on the other hand, are mandated to make both announced and unannounced visits to facilities and institutions providing mental health care to ensure they conform to approved standards.

The Mental Health Review Tribunal is constituted by a legal practitioner appointed by the Attorney-General, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a service user. The visiting committees also constitute, a representative of the regional coordinating council, a mental health professional without a direct service role in the said region, a Legal Practitioner, community members, among others.

The Deputy Minister for Health, Mr. Mahama Asei Seini, said the inauguration of the two bodies under the Mental Health Authority will ensure that persons with mental illness are treated with dignity.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Authority, Mrs. Matilda Estelle Appiah, entreated the members of the tribunal and visiting committees not to take the task for granted.

Dr. Charles Wiafe Akenten, a senior lecturer at the University of Ghana, and Ms. Vivian Dwira, the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer for the Greater Accra Health Directorate, told GBC News the impact of both the tribunal and Committees on Mental health care in the country.

Their establishment was funded by UKAID through the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie and the FCDO and would be piloted in the Upper East and Western Ashanti regions.

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