Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu has told Parliament that a total of 3.1 million Ghanaians, representing 10% of the country’s 31 million population have mental disorders.
According to him, it is established that 41% of Ghanaians have psychological distress, which is either mild, moderate, or severe, and this costs the nation about 7% GDP loss.
Responding to a question on the floor of Parliament filed by MP for Sege, Christian Corletey Otuteye on plans by the Health Ministry to address the plight of persons with mental health problems, the Minister said “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 on the streets in our cities, towns, and villages all over the country”.
“Mr. Speaker, persons with mental health problems in the country are in four (4) categories: Those on the street, those at the treatment facilities, which include psychiatric hospitals 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 illness or who recognize but are not doing anything about it.”
“World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10% of the population of Ghana have one form of mental disorder or the other. Thus, with our estimated 31 million population in Ghana, we have an estimated 3.1 million with mental disorders.
Giving more details, the Minister said, the Ministry and various institutions, including the Mental Health Authority, the Ghana Health Service, and others, have the human resources to deal with the problem.
“What we are doing now is to spread mental health service nationwide, integrate it into general health care such that wherever we treat malaria, mental illness can be treated. This will help with access to care,” Mr. Agyeman Manu said.
The MP for Dormaa Central told Parliament that as part of efforts to address the plight of mentally ill persons, the government through its Agenda 111, will build two new psychiatric hospitals in the northern and middle belts.
According to him, the locations of these hospitals have been identified and drawings made. He explained that government is in the pipeline to get contractors for the project.
“Until recently, psychiatric medication was not readily available. These medications are now available through budgetary allocations and donor support. We have trained more psychiatrists, from 10 psychiatrists not long ago to 45 at the moment” the Health Minister added.
Concluding his remarks, Mr. Agyeman Manu appealed for more funds so the project can be speedily implemented.
“What is left now, is with your support to find more money. The Ministry is working on how to establish a Mental Health Levy, which will hopefully solve most of the financial challenges. An increase in budgetary allocation will enable patients on the streets to be taken in small numbers at a time for treatment and sent back to their communities”.