Government paying greater attention to mental health care

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the government is paying greater attention to mental health care and has considered including it in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). He said his administration was taking steps to commit more resources to the provision of mental health care, and to provide the needed infrastructure to support the mental health care system in the country. Speaking at the commissioning of the new office complex of the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Ghana Medical School at Korle-Bu on Tuesday, the President said it was a matter of justice and equality to include the more serious mental conditions on the NHIS list. He explained that some of the expenses of patients with mental challenges must be covered by the Scheme to ensure that mental health care is not separated from physical health in terms of access, care and quality of treatment. The new state-of-the-art office complex christened ‘The Melody’, stands in memory of late Squadron Leader Melody Millicent Danquah, the first female Ghanaian pilot, who was forced to retire from the Ghana Air Force service in her 50s due to mental health challenges. The facility will serve both the University of Medical School and the larger Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital community. It has a conference room, a student lecture hall, faculty research offices, a serene waiting area conducive to teaching and learning, consulting rooms, therapy rooms, a treatment room, a pharmacy, and an observation room. The President referred to statistics that suggest that only 3 per cent of mental health patients who need care received it in an orthodox psychiatry setting due to geographic barriers, stigma, economic challenges, limited human resources, and inadequate infrastructure. He noted that mental health care played a significant role in the economy, citing a report that showed that seven per cent of GDP was lost annually to loss of productive hours due to the psychological distress of Ghanaian workers. President Akufo-Addo noted that the new facility, which ‘represents a beacon of hope, a sanctuary where individuals can seek help without fear of judgement, discrimination or social isolation,’ by the virtue of where it was situated, would decrease stigma towards patients and professionals who practice mental health treatment. ‘It symbolises a beautiful partnership between public institutions and the private sector. It shows what can be achieved when the experts sit with the private sector and the private sector becomes aligned to its responsibilities and this partnership, then deepens government’s commitment to advancing mental health care in Ghana,’ he said. President Akufo-Addo assured stakeholders in mental health care in the country that that aspect of health service would be given priority. ‘Our journey to provide comprehensive and accessible health care for all is ongoing. Together, we can build a nation where mental health care is a priority and every Ghanaian receive the care and support, they deserve,’ he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency