Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), a Ghanaian community-based not-for-profit organization, is calling on the Government of Ghana, civil society and development partners to prioritize and invest in interventions aimed at addressing stigma and discrimination related to disability and mental health conditions in Ghana.
The organization also urged the government of Ghana to increase allocation of funds to mental health institutions and sustainably support people with mental health conditions across the country.
HFFG said this in a press statement to mark the 2021 World Mental Health Day on Sunday, October 10, 2021. HFFG commended the government’s efforts, through the Mental Health Authority, aimed at reducing the negative and discriminatory attitudes, behaviors and norms faced by people with mental health conditions. However, it noted that many people are still denied equitable access to health and social opportunities due to their mental health conditions which needs to be addressed.
World Mental Health Day is commemorated globally on 10th October each year with focus on mental health education, awareness and policy advocacy. The theme for this year is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.
Discrimination against people with mental health
According to a 2020 study conducted by the Ghana Somubi Programme supported by the Government of UK, stigma and discrimination related to disability and mental health conditions are widespread in Ghana. The study identified lack of community and family support, cultural and religious beliefs, and lack of enforcement of laws as major drivers of stigma and discrimination faced by people with disabilities, including those with mental health conditions.
Making reference to this study, the Executive Director of HFFG, Mrs. Cecilia Senoo said elderly women in parts of the Northern Region regardless of the closure of the Gambaga Witches Camp still suffer being lynched by family and community members because of mental health conditions.
“This is a continuous disincentive to breaking the barriers of mental health. It is sad that in Ghana, mental health institutions are under resourced and the support from corporate Ghana is also negligible compared to other areas that their funds go to. The suicides and suicidal tendencies are all as a result of lack of support and understanding of peoples’ mental health problems.
“Mental health is a public health concern and we, as a country, cannot achieve much unless we make mental health everybody’s business”.Mrs. Cecilia Senoo
Addressing mental health issues
To address mental health related issues, Mrs. Senoo noted that the HFFG is advocating the inclusion of Mental health education and wellness in the Ghanaian syllabus at all levels. She also called for the enforcement of the laws to protect the lives of mental health patients in the country.
“Provision of psychosocial support and counselling should be made very accessible to all by setting up call centres and including mental health services on their essential treatment list of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
“law enforcement agencies and duty bearers need to be more responsive in the internalization of mental health policies to protect these vulnerable group so that they can live up to their full potential and contribute meaningfully to the development of themselves, families and Ghana at large”.Mrs. Cecilia Senoo
In the statement, The HFFG congratulated persons with mental health conditions, mental health professionals, families, caregivers, state institutions, civil society and corporate institutions playing integral roles to make mental health relevant in Ghana.
HFFG is a grantee under the UK Aid funded Ghana Somubi Dwumadie, a four-year disability programme with a specific focus on mental health. This initiative is supporting efforts to remove barriers which prevent people with disabilities, including mental health conditions from reaching their full potential.