GHANA – According to data from the WHO and the Ghana Mental Health, it is established that 41 percent of Ghanaians have psychological distress termed either as mild, moderate or severe and this costs the nation 7 percent GDP loss.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10 percent of the population of Ghana has one form of mental disorder or the other. Thus, with an estimated 31 million population in Ghana, they have an estimated 3.1 million with mental disorders.
“The Mental Health Authority did a rapid assessment, a mini census of persons with severe mental illness on the streets a few years ago and they got 16,000 people in our cities, towns and villages all over the country,” Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Health Minister said.
The Minister categorized persons with mental health problems into four: those on the street, those at treatment facilities, which include psychiatric and general health facilities, those in the traditional and faith healing centers, and those in their houses and organizations who do not recognize their mental health illness or who recognize but are not doing anything about it.
However, Mr. Agyeman-Manu speaking at the parliament, assured that the Ministry and its allied institutions including the Mental Health Authority, the Ghana Health Service and others, knew the size of the problem and had the human resources to address it.
“What we are doing now is to spread mental health services nationwide, integrate into the general health care such that wherever we treat malaria, mental health can be treated. This will help to access care,” he said.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu said under the Agenda 111 program of government, two new psychiatric hospitals were to be built in the northern and middle belts, adding that the sites had been identified, drawings made, and contractors being chosen.
He said until recently, psychiatric medications were not readily available, but they were now available through budgetary allocations and donor support adding that more psychiatrists had also been trained, from 10 to 45 at the moment.
The Minister advocated an increase in budgetary allocation to enable mental health patients on the streets to be taken in small numbers at a time for treatment and sent back home to their communities.
Mental health affects 13% of the world’s population, a number that could increase as people around the world shelter in place and adjust to a new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic
According to CDC, 20.6% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2019 (51.5 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
5.2% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2019 (13.1 million people). This represents 1 in 20 adults.