A Psychiatrist at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Dr Gaynor Ama Ankamah, has attributed the alarming rate of mental health cases being recorded in Ghana to unemployment, rampant divorce and substance abuse. Currently, she said one out of every four persons has mental health disorder, a situation which required urgent attention from the government before it worsens in the next five to 10 years. This is basically due to intermittent shortages of mental health drugs and impeding recovery process of patients. In an interview with the our correspondent on the sidelines of a specialist psychiatric outreach programme held in the Nkoranza Municipality, Dr Ankamah, a second year resident psychiatrist at the KATH said high unemployment, divorce and substance abuse were the major causes of mental problems in the country. Specifically, she mentioned abuse of tramadol as the highest cases being recorded at the KATH, and called on the government and Ministry of Health to up measures to control the sale and abuse of the drug among the youth. Dr Ankamah said cases were taking dangerous dimensions because many of the patients looked aggressive and they could harm people if they were left to roam on streets More than 100 people with various mental health problems in the Nkoranza Municipality benefited from the outreach programme, organised by MIHOSO International Foundation, a non-governmental organisation. Beneficiaries were screened and supplied with drugs to enhance their recovery processes during the day’s exercise, which forms part of a mental health project being implemented by the MIHOSO and Basic Needs UK, an international NGO with funding from the Department of International Development (DFID). Titled “enhancing maternal mental health of 30,000 pregnant women and mothers and their children to realise maternal and child health in Ghana”, the three-year project expected to end by 2020 is being implemented in 18 districts in the Brong-Ahafo Region. Dr Ankamah explained that though many mental health problems could not be treated, cases could be managed if patients put on drugs strictly adhere to the course and appealed to care-givers to support patients. She explained that mental health problem remained huge national challenge which affected all, and called for concerted efforts to help recover patients. Dr Ankamah dispelled the wrong societal perception that epilepsy was linked to witchcraft and curse, saying epilepsy could be treated if detected early among patients. Mr George Kwame Osei, the Nkoranza South Municipal Mental Health focal person, said about 1,088 new mental health cases had been reported at the Nkoranza Health Center with epilepsy and substance abuse recoding high figures. He explained that many of the cases were also not specified, adding that peri-natal disorders, schizophrenia, and attempted suicides were also recording alarming trends. Last year, Mr Osei said about 16 cases of attempted suicide and 99 cases of epilepsy were reported, but regretted about lack of drugs for patients. He added that drugs such as olanzapine, carbanazepam, phenobarbitone, chlrorpromazine, rasperidone, fluoxetine, amitriptyline and diazepam were needed urgently to aid the recovery process of patients and appealed to NGOs, and our development partners to support them. Mr Osei also called on the government to ensure that mental health problems were covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme saying drugs were costly and patients could not afford them.
Source: WatchGhana.Com/K. Peprah