Mental Health Crisis

GHANA’S mental health system is currently on its knees as nurses at the biggest mental health facility, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, have embarked on an exercise dubbed #StayAwayFromDanger in protest of bad working conditions which tend to affect the efficiency of service delivery at the facility and also patients welfare.

The nurses, prior to this action, had given government an ultimatum to provide basic logistics but – of course government – didn’t respond to the demands of these nurses and only tried a knee-jerk solution on the deadline making – as usual – their empty promises of providing these logistics.

Now that the nurses have stayed away from danger, the hospital management are reported to have sent home some 300 patients who have shown some level of progress in their mental state but who, on any usual day, would have required a little more stay at the hospital to fully recover but they (hospital management) have been forced to take this step as there seem to be no solution in sight to the issues affecting the hospital by government.

I’ll liken some of these patients to half-baked breads since they’ve not fully recovered and what can be done with half-baked breads? These patients will become burdens on their relatives as more time will have to be spent taking care of them at home. That will affect productivity and in the long term affect the economy. But the question is WHO CARES?

Who cares about these patients, anyway, as some of them have been abandoned by their relatives? Their relatives have left them to the mercies of our heartless politicians and policy makers who don’t prioritise mental health.

It is unbelievable that government subvention for the mentally ill is just about Ghc1 a day and that is even not forthcoming. What do you expect the patients to eat with that amount – garri soakings? But, then again, the question still arises, WHO CARES?

Some Ghanaian celebrities got together and organised a #DumsorMustStop vigil when the energy crisis that hit the country some time back was at its peak to pressurise government to find lasting solutions to the problem.

But with mental health crisis reaching a crescendo, I’m yet to see or hear a celebrity or a group of them organise a #SaveAccraPsychiatricHospitalNow vigil or concert to put pressure on government.

They seem to forget that without a sound mind, they can’t work. Some celebrities also organise musical concerts once a while to raise funds for the National Cardiothoracic Centre, which is a good thing, but who is doing same for Accra Psychiatric Hospital? They all seem to forget that without a sound mind you can’t save a heart. But anyway, WHO CARES?

Our various media houses – especially radio and television stations – would rather discuss trivial political issues and pre and post- telenovela episodes than issues relating to mental health. These minutes spent making these discussions can be used to educate people on mental health and help reduce stigma. But anyway that’s what fetches them money so WHO CARES?

The governing NDC in their manifesto for the 2016 elections dubbed #ChangingLives #TransformingGhana made some pronouncements on their plans for mental health should they win the elections. However, no matter how exciting those promises may appear it must be noted that building of new psychiatric hospitals are archaic. The new trend in mental health in the whole world is shifting focus from institutional care to community care.

Anyway, what are they doing about the current crippling situation of mental health since they’re already in power? Is it not for political expediency that they’re making these promises? But WHO CARES?

The main opposition party, the NPP, also launched its manifesto dubbed #ManifestoSolutions but that is also bereft of a single solution to the many problems bedevilling mental health. But hey, WHO CARES?

It’s unheard-of, the world over, to be a mental health nurse without a thing like RISK ALLOWANCE, but that word is alien to mental health nurses in Ghana even with the obvious dangers the nurses are exposed to on daily basis. But WHO CARES?

It appears that only mental health workers care about the mentally ill in this country as a larger portion of the general population don’t care.

But if I may ask, DO YOU CARE?

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