Mental patients invade streets of Sunyani

Mr Joseph Yere, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Coordinator of Mental Health, has appealed to the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) to assist and confine patients with mental illness roaming the streets of Sunyani, the regional capital. Mr Yere said a recent census showed that 687 patients with various forms of mental health conditions have strayed on the streets of the Sunyani municipality. Speaking at a workshop on mental health at Abesim, near Sunyani, the mental health coordinator, said though many of the patients looked calm, they could be aggressive at anytime, hence the need to take them off the streets.

The workshop was organised by two health centered Non-Governmental Organisations – MIHOSO International and Basic Needs Ghana with support from the Department for International Development (DFID). It was attended by District and Municipal Coordinating Directors, Planning Officers and other key stakeholders of the assembly and aimed at sensitizing and updating the participants on maternal mental health situation in region.

Mr Yere said the local government service is regarded a key stakeholder in the mental health Act 846, 2012 but expressed worry that it had neglected its responsibility toward the mentally challenged. He said depression, uncontrolled drug abuse and alcoholism as some of the immediate causes of mental illness. Mr Yere said when mental health patients strictly adhered to their medications, it facilitated their treatment and healing process and appealed to families, relatives, friends and the entire society to assist patients to take their drugs as prescribed. He commended MIHOSO and its partner agencies for the support in helping to address mental health challenges in the region.

Dr Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu, the Chief Executive Officer of MIHOSO, said over the past seven years, the two NGOs had been implementing various mental health intervention programmes in the region. The main aim of the intervention is to support government to build a national mental health system that effectively and efficiently responds to the mental health needs of the population. Dr Benarkuu said although faced with fierce resistance and stigma, the programme has achieved several successes and impacted positively on the conditions of mental health patients. He called for a collaboration between regional mental health units, NGOs, and the Municipal and District health directorate toward the integration of mental health into the mainstream of healthcare delivery.

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