The Wa Municipal Mental Health Officer, Sylvester Basagnia says the perception that mental illness has a spiritual undertone is a key challenge to mental health service delivery.
He made the remark on the sidelines of a dissemination workshop on the findings of a study on resource allocation to community mental health in Ghana at Wa.
Mr. Basagnia observed that as a result of the perception, it is very difficult for people with psychiatric problems and epilepsy to see the health facility as the first point of call and so they resort to the faith based or traditional healing centres and only resort to the hospital when they are not getting the expected results.
The Mental Health Officer indicated that when alternatives treatment centres are resorted to, some of the patients may suffer de-humansing treatment because they might be chained or restrained in a way that will affect their dignity.
Mr. Basagnia added that in spite of the challenge, mental health personnel are trying to partner with the traditional healers to enable them pick up clients for treatment in hospitals.
He mentioned inadequate medication and lack of means of transport as some of the issues affecting mental health service delivery. Sharing the findings of a research in five regions, the Programs Manager of BasicNeeds Ghana, Adam Dokurugu Yahaya announced that there is/was 97% funding gap for community-based mental health services.
The study revealed that though [central] government is the highest resource contributor to community based mental health services by providing 87.9% of all receipts.
Total receipts for community based mental health services for the study period amounted to one million, 524 thousand, 185 point 16 Ghana Cedis (GH ₵ 1,524,185.16) whilst 98.5% of government’s funding to mental health is/was spent on emoluments.
It also came out that, out of nine expenditure items, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, (MMDAs) contributed 17.1% to “medical supplies” but nothing to the other eight items ranging from ‘staff emoluments’, ‘logistics, office equipment to ‘governance’.
The research was conducted under a project known as Accessible and quality mental health for poor and marginalized persons with mental disabilities with support from Star Ghana Foundation.
The research which looked at the period, January to December 2018 had BasicNeeds-Ghana, Mental Health Society of Ghana (MEHSoG), Centre for Peoples Empowerment and Rights Initiatives (CPRI), MIHOSO International Foundation and NORSAAC as the partnering NGOs.
The study was conducted in Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Brong-Ahafo and Greater Accra Regions. Each of the five regions had six districts selected for the research.
The Programmes Coordinator of the Centre for Peoples Empowerment and Rights Initiatives (CPRI), Dominic Wunigura said CPRI is being motivated to part of consortium of NGOs led by BasicNeeds Ghana to identify the gaps in the country and ensure that persons with mental illness and epilepsy are able to access the services that they require as a vulnerable group.
“The consortium was formed to serve as a louder voice for NGOs to echo the needs of those with mental illness and epilepsy in the country, he affirmed.
Mr. Wunigura was hopeful that the efforts of the NGOs will lead to an improved resource allocation for mental health services at the community level as well as the passage of a legislative instrument (LI) they have been pushing for since the passage of the Mental Health Act, Act 846 of 2012.
Story by Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo