3 million Ghanaians suffer from mental health problems – Minister of Health
Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu is the Minister of Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 10 percent of Ghana’s population, or 10 out of every 100, suffer from some form of mental disorder.
“So, with our estimated population of 31 million in Ghana, we have around 3.1 million people with mental disorders,” Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said when he said ‘was addressed to Parliament last Wednesday.
He was responding to a question from the Member of Parliament for Sege, Mr Christian Corletey Otuteye, on what the government was doing to address the plight of people with mental health problems and developments in the health field.
Mental health categories
In response, the minister said people with mental health problems in the country fell into four categories.
He mentioned them as those on the streets, those in treatment centers, including psychiatric hospitals and general health facilities, those in traditional and religious healing centers, as well as those in their homes and organizations that did not recognize their mental illness or who recognized it but did nothing about it.
He said the Mental Health Authority carried out a rapid assessment – a mini census – of people with severe mental illness on the streets a few years ago and identified 16,000 people on the streets of towns and villages in all the countries.
“Mr. President, it is clearly established that 41% of Ghanaians suffer from psychological distress – mild, moderate or severe – and it costs the nation 7% loss of GDP.
“Mr President, this is all to show that we know the scale of the problem and how much it is costing the nation,” said the deputy for Dormaa Central.
Mental health integration
Mr Agyeman-Manu told the House that the Ministry of Health and its various institutions – the Mental Health Authority, Ghana Health Service and others – have the human resources to deal with the problem.
“What we’re doing now is expanding mental health services nationwide, integrating them into general health care so that wherever we treat malaria, mental illnesses can be treated. This will facilitate access to care, ”he said.
To expand the delivery of mental health care, Agyeman-Manu said the government’s Agenda 111 will see, among other things, the construction of two new mental hospitals in the northern and middle belts.
The sites for these facilities, he said, had been identified and drawings made, with contractors now being chosen.
The minister explained that until recently psychiatric drugs were not readily available but currently drugs for patients are now available through budget allocations and donor support.
“We have trained more psychiatrists, from 10 psychiatrists not so long ago to 45 now. Mr. Speaker, what remains now is your support to find more money.
“The ministry is working on how to establish a mental health tax which will hopefully solve most of the financial challenges. The increased budget allocation will allow patients on the streets to be picked up in small numbers both for treatment and for referral to their communities, ”he said.