Regional News of Saturday, 16 June 2012
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Journalists in the Upper West Region were schooled on the new mental health law passed by parliament in March this year at a workshop in Wa, on Friday.
The workshop, which was organized by BasicNeeds, a key advocate for improved mental health care delivery in Ghana, was on the theme: “Mental Health and the media in the wake of the new Mental Health Law, the way forward”.
The aim was to create a platform for the Journalists to discuss the role they could play to put government in check to ensure that the new Mental Health Act brings about the needed reforms in the mental health sector.
This is expected to help address the needs and rights of people with mental illness and epilepsy in Ghana.
Mr. Bernard Alando, BasicNeeds Knowledge and Communications officer, in a presentation on the topic “The new Mental Health Act, key provisions and implementation issues,” stated that Persons with Mental Illness (PWMI) were vulnerable in society.
As a result they were faced with peculiar problems such as poverty and stigmatization, discrimination and marginalization as well as other human rights abuse.
Mr. Alando said there was the need for a legislation to overhaul and restructure the mental health system in Ghana, protect their rights and interests as well as ensure the provision of adequate resources among others to cater for persons with mental health illness.
He said broad areas of the law included the establishment of a Mental Health Authority, which would be tasked with the mandate of putting in place all the administrative structures that would ensure effective implementation of the law.
The Knowledge and Communication Officer said in the next 10 years, the law would ensure that, through education and awareness creation mental health issues would be widespread in the country.
It would also ensure the establishment of a 50-bed psychiatric hospital in each region across the country; provide four Drug Rehabilitation Centres and 20 bed psychiatric wards in each of Regional hospital as well as the training of more psychiatric doctors and nurses to manage the sector.
Mr. Alando said the law would look at increasing the current number of psychiatrists from 14 to 100 and others such as Psychiatric nurses, Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatric Social Workers and Psychiatric Medical Assistants among others.
He said traditional and Faith-based healers would receive training and used as front-liners.
Mr. Alando mentioned weak governing board, inactivity of key players as well as lack of coordination and cooperation among stakeholders and other key players, as some of the possible challenges that might impede the achievement of the set targets as proposed by the law.
He was however optimistic that with strong commitment and enthusiasm by all stakeholders, a lot could be done to change the plight of persons with mental health illness in the country.**