Thursday, January 28, 2010

With the link between mental illness and suicide, Ghana pushes for Mental Health Bill

From GNA in Ghana:

ACCRA, Ghana -- Dr. Akwesi Osei, Chief Psychiatrist of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, has attributed the high spate of suicide cases in the country to mental illness.

He has therefore called for the quick passage of the Mental Health Bill to adequately address the issue.

"It is estimated that about 90 to 95 per cent of suicide cases in the country are caused by mental illness such as depression. Cases of mental illness and the high rate of madness in the country could be adequately catered for if the government would give them the needed attention," he said.

Dr. Osei, who made this known during an advocacy launch by the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD), appealed to the public to know the distinction between mental illness and madness and treat them adequately.

He cited severe headache, fear for heights and irrational fear or phobia as some of the examples of mental illness, which needed to be treated adding that about 30 per cent of the Ghanaians are suffering from these problems.

Dr. Osei who spoke passionately about the passage of the Mental Health Bill into law cited adequate care for mental health patients and an end to discrimination against those with mental problems as some of the benefits to be derived from the law.

He bemoaned the poor conditions under which patients at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital lived as exposed by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, an investigative journalist, and attributed the conditions to the delay in the passage of the bill.

"If the Mental Health Bill were to be passed, it would have become incumbent on the government and other stakeholders to furnish the Hospital with the state of the art facilities and the needed security," he said.

Mr. Yaw Ofori Debra, Advocacy Chairman, GFD, praised the government for signing the UN Convention on Disability and called for its ratification due to the in-depth information on how to treat People with Disability (PWD) and also the ultimate protection of PWDs.

"Although Ghana also has the Disability Act, it cannot be compared with that of the United Nations since that is more in-depth and tells us how to deal with specific issues relating to the disabled," he said.

He pledged the commitment of GFD to work closely with the Disability Council in order to ensure that the needs of the disabled were adequately catered for.