Beestel Psychiatric Foundation launches Mental Health Awareness Campaign

Accra- Beestel Child and Adult Psychiatric Foundation has launched a Mental Health Awareness Campaign to sensitise the public on causes of mental illnesses and the need to take actions after detecting signs and symptoms of mental problems.

The two-day campaign which was held in Accra and Cape Coast over the weekend included a sensitisation activity on a car float branded with messages of the campaign through communities within the two towns; a mental health talk and a training programme for staff of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital.

Ms Stella Nutakor, the Founder of the Foundation said its goal was to support Ghanaians to gradually eradicate the state where mentally challenged persons lived on the streets.

She said the Foundation which had been handling mental health concerns of Ghanaians in the United Kingdom observed mental health as a topic that was not given enough emphasis in Ghana and therefore felt the need to raise awareness on the disorder.

She said: We want to help Ghanaians on the street with mental illness to be examined by Specialists in order to be out of the streets. There is a recovery for people with mental health problems just as people are cured of headache, stomach ache and malaria.

Ms Nutakor said they were raising funds to establish a mental health assessment centre with a help line where persons with mental health challenges could call for advice and recommendations.

Dr Akwasi Osei, the Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, said what was needed to implement the Mental Health Act, was the backing of a Legislative Instrument and appealed to the government to pass the Mental Health Act in order to give the sector levy to support mental related issues.

He said the Authority and its bodies were not able to function effectively as they lacked medicine and equipment to carry out their responsibilities.

Dr Osei advised the public to desist from stigmatising people with mental illnesses adding that the disorder could affect anybody at any time and urged them to stop attributing mental ailment to spirituality, adding that We believe in prayers, but we shouldn’t let prayer take the place of treatment.

Dr Stephen Attard, a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, speaking on mental health, signs and symptoms said, one in every four people around the world would experience mental health problems.

He disclosed that statistics had shown that 450 million people around the world had mental problems and in 2030, mental illnesses would be the 13th cause of mortality across the globe.

Dr Attard said people with mental problems find it challenging to think, feel and react as expected of them, adding that many people with mental challenges hesitated to share their problems with family, friends and psychologists because of the fear of discrimination and stigmatisation.

He said one of the symptoms of a mental illness was a feeling of anxiety, adding that its treatment was sharing health problems with family and friends who could support with words of encouragement.

Speaking on depression as a symptom of mental illness, Dr Attard said 300 million people suffer from depression globally, adding that one in every five people suffer the disorder which consequently made them experience a feeling of guilt and low esteem.

He advised the public to desist from taking alcohol especially in a depressive state not to worsen their situations. There also exists post-natal depression where about 10 out of every 15 women suffer depression after giving birth and such people should seek medical advice, he said.

He mentioned that over excitement, unnecessary talking, and interruption of conversation with different topics as some of the effects of depression.

Source: Ghana News Agency