At a forum organised for the media on mental health in Accra on Thursday by Basic Needs Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) with a focus on mental health issues, the Chairman of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Prof J.B. Asare, indicated that mental health could be managed and, actually, treated just like any other disease.

Prof. Asare, said mental health was currently going through a revolution, noting that the Mental Health Bill was enacted into law in 2012 while a board had been appointed in 2013 by government to cater for the needs of the sector.

He said people with mental health challenges were being cured, and that there was the need for families to support MHA during the process of treatment and after recovery.

Prof. Asare said the time had come for the media to sensitize the general public about mental health to help stop the stigmatisation and the stereotyping associated with it.

The MHA Chairman also appealed to benevolent organisations and government to help raise funds to support the sector.

In a presentation, Mr Alfred Nortey-Dua, a Clinical Psychologist from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ghana, spoke on the role the media had to play in the promotion of mental health.

Mr Nortey-Dua said the forum was a wake-up call for the media to start sensitizing the public on the main issues surrounding mental health to help clear the negative attitudes that had been associated with it.
He said the media needed to spread the message that mental health was curable to help change people’s mind set so that when an individual recovered from a mental illness, they would not go through stigmatisation or be rejected by the public and their families.

Mr Nortey-Dua observed that there were some disparities between physical and mental health and that there was the need for the journalist to be equipped to enable them report on the issues and also ensure that the community was involved and educated on the treatment given to such patients.

The Executive Director, Mr Yaro Badimak Peter, noted that Basic Needs Ghana was focused on this area of health care because it realised that it had been neglected for far too long

Mr Peter said being an organisation with much concern on mental health, one of their activities was to engage with the media to ensure that they used their mediums to help propagate their activities and knowledge of the sector.

He was worried about the negative attitude associated with the disease, adding that mental health was a right and not a privilege and, therefore, every person had the right to be treated and to live a happy live after treatment, free from negative perceptions that would keep them away from the public.

The Executive Director disclosed that about 26,429 people benefited from the cure and called on the media to help educate the public and help them change their perception about mental health.

Source: ISD (Chantal Aidoo)