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Six hundred and seventy-two mentally challenged people who have been roaming the streets in the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions have been identified and earmarked for treatment.

The Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Mental Health Department had submitted budgets to the three regional coordinating councils for their treatment and reintegration into society.

The Bono Regional Mental Health Coordinator, Mr Joseph Yere, disclosed this to the Daily Graphic as part of a sensitisation workshop on the prevention of drug and chemical abuse in Sunyani.

It was organised by the Catholic University College of Ghana (CUCG) for student leaders in senior and junior high schools at Baakoniaba,a suburb of Sunyani last Thursday.

Mr Yere said the Mental Health Office in Sunyani was waiting for the approval of the budget to commence the treatment at the appropriate health facilities.

The coordinator explained that the mentally challenged had been left to roam the streets because there were no drugs at the various health facilities in the three regions for their treatment.

Inadequate funding

“The major problem facing mental health in the three regions is the lack of drugs; we don’t have a single psychiatric drug to treat our patients,” Mr Yere stated, adding that, “in the whole of 2019, my office did not receive a single drug for the treatment of our clients for free”.

Mr Yere said his office did not also receive any funding from the central government for the treatment of patients.

Against that backdrop, he appealed to the government to release funds for the operational activities and the treatment of patients.

He indicated that if funds were released, the patients would be put into groups and treated in batches.

Mr Yere said drug abuse among students in the three regions was very high and mentioned tramadol, marijuana, tobacco, cocaine, alcohol, pethidine and morphine among other drugs as the most commonly abused.

Mr Yere expressed the hope that such sensitisation workshops would help reduce drug abuse among students in the three regions and called on heads of junior and senior high schools to join the campaign.

Time bomb

In an address at the workshop, the Dean of the Faculty of Education of the CUCG, Professor Stephen Ntim, stated that 70 per cent of the youth in the country were into drug abuse.

“The country is sitting on a time bomb due to the increasing number of youth engaged in drug abuse coupled with the high unemployment situation,” he stated, and called on stakeholders to work towards saving the youth from substance abuse.

Stating that every country relied on its youth for development, Prof. Ntim explained that since the youth held the future of the country, they needed to be protected from all forms of social vices to enable them to grow to be useful adults.

Rehabilitation centres

A counseling psychologist at the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Mr Prince Kwame Affum, called on the government and other stakeholders to consider establishing rehabilitation centres to help drug abuse victims to recover.

He explained that it was important to quarantine drug addicts while giving them treatment or counselling.

He, therefore, urged the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to take up such responsibilities.

Mr Affum also called on the Ghana Education Service (GES) to provide counselling psychologists for the various basic schools, explaining that it was not enough for counsellors to operate only in tertiary and senior high schools.