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2014 World Mental Health Day

Ghana

Background of Ghana
Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana endured a long series of coups before Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, RAWLINGS won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996 but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR succeeded him and was reelected in 2004. John Atta MILLS took over as head of state in early 2009. After the demise of President Atta Mill,s his Vice John Mahama was appointed the president of Ghana.

The size of Ghana is about 239,000 sq km. It also has a population 24,791,073. The population of Accra, the National Capital is 2.269 million. The official language is English. There are around 75 spoken language and numerous ethnic groups including the Akan, the Mossi, the Ga-Adangme, the Fante and the Hausa. There two major religions in Ghana namely; Islam and Christianity. The currency used is the cedi.

Mental Health policy in Ghana

The history of mental health policy development is as chequered as the political history of Ghana. The records maintain that the year 1888 marked a significant turning point for mental health in Ghana; for it was in that year the colonial authorities at the time enacted a law to confine people with mental illness. A new Mental Health Law is currently in place and has come to replace the Mental Health Act of 1972 which was considered outmoded and did not accord with best practice standards for mental health legislation. The current mental health law aims protecting, promoting and improving the lives and well being of people with mental disorder.. This law seeks to address most of the problems, which were identified in the earlier laws or legislations and seeks to prevent discrimination and offer equal opportunities to all people with mental disorders. Again, the law makes provision for decentralization of mental health services. For instance, it calls for the establishment of a psychiatric wing in each regional hospital. The law (Act 846) also provides backing to the provision of community mental health care.

MHLAP ACTIVITIES IN GHANA

Background

In 2007, a landmark series of papers published by the Lancet medical journal established psychosocial disability as a priority in addressing unmet health needs globally. It ended by calling for a significant scale-up of services for people with mental disorders, but recognized some barriers that have made previous efforts falter. This included poor public health skills among leaders in mental health who were unable to sustain strong advocacy for programme development at a national level. This has resulted in mental health remaining a low priority in most West African nations despite significant progress in health recognizing and responding to these in other regions and strong evidence-base for effective services at affordable costs in low income settings.
In recognition of the importance of empowering a broad base of stakeholders for self advocacy this project was conceived to work to develop stakeholder council in 5 English speaking nations in West Africa including Ghana.

Stakeholder Council Inauguration


Since the inauguration of the stakeholder council in Ghana in October 2011, the council had met once to review the project selected during the council meeting.

The meeting was the first to develop the strategy to embark on the mental health awareness creation campaign, targeting corporate institutions, schools, churches and also make some presentation to the ministry of health. Through the council’s link person with the ministry of health, some mental health leaders and council members have made strives engage some of the institutions that needed some of the statistics and startling revelations about mental health.

The mental health leaders so far have been working with the stakeholders in pushing the advocacy agenda in the country. mhLAP in Ghana has become a member of the Greater Accra Mental Health Regional Alliance by virtue of it’s focus and interest. It has also equipped members with some literature and materials on mental health that were provided by the mental health leaders during their training in Ibadan.

So far, a strong relationship has been developed with the ministry of health in Ghana in order to be able to drive the advocacy agenda effectively.

Another area the council will have the opportunity to make some impact will be when a representation of one of it’s own on the Mental Health Board.

Mental Health Situation in Ghana
As part of efforts at collecting data and information on the mental health situation in Ghana an initial consultation via telephone has started. The Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Ankaful Psychiatric hospital, Pantang Hospital, Korle Bu, Ridge Hospitals and four other district hospital’s management were informed about it and they have expressed their readiness to provide the necessary assistance once a letter is written to request to follow protocol. This information was collected in both quantitative and qualitative data. Once resources including letterheads and some funding are provided, the necessary physical contacts will be made. The Report of the Situational Analysis was generated and submitted

mhLAP Mental Health Leaders meeting held on 18th July 2012.

The meeting was held in the premises of mhLAP Ghana office in Ghana at 9:00am which is equally the offices of BasicNeeds and MEHSOG. In all 6 leaders were in attendance.

The opening prayer was said by Doris Appiah Danquah to start the meeting. It was followed by a self introduction by the leaders.

In his opening address, Mr Peter Yaro, Executive Director of BasicNeeds welcomed members to the meeting and said he was extremely thankful to members who had travelled from afar and wide for the meeting.

Mr Peter Yaro, Executive Director, BasicNeeds delivering his welcome address during the mental health leaders meeting.


He said their participation in this meeting showed their level of commitment to ensuring that the project worked. He was very optimistic that members will contribute immensely to the deliberation.
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Next on the programme was an overview of the role of the mental health leaders by Humphrey Kofie, Country Facilitator. He said the Mental Health Leaders (MHL) were basically responsible for setting the National Mental Health Advocacy Agenda and reporting back to the Council, what they would have achieved and what challenges they were encountering over the next few months.

Mr Fudahunsi Olawoyer, was next to present the Nigeria experience on the role mental health leaders and what they have been doing. He said the mental health leadership had just been constituted and were very active people who hope to support toe mental health advocacy agenda set by the Country Facilitator for Nigeria. He said he was very hopeful and optimistic that they will; live up to expectation.

Next was a presentation by the Country Facilitator for Ghana, Humphrey Kofie on the proposed mental health advocacy agenda. After his presentation, he invited suggestions and inputs, but many were those who thought that, it reflected the mental health advocacy priority for the nation.

mhLAP Mental Health Leaders meeting held on 18th July 2012.

The meeting was held in the premises of mhLAP Ghana office in Ghana at 9:00am which is equally the offices of BasicNeeds and MEHSOG. In all 6 leaders were in attendance.

The opening prayer was said by Doris Appiah Danquah to start the meeting. It was followed by a self introduction by the leaders.

In his opening address, Mr Peter Yaro, Executive Director of BasicNeeds welcomed members to the meeting and said he was extremely thankful to members who had travelled from afar and wide for the meeting.

Mr Peter Yaro, Executive Director, BasicNeeds delivering his welcome address during the mental health leaders meeting.

He said their participation in this meeting showed their level of commitment to ensuring that the project worked. He was very optimistic that members will contribute immensely to the deliberation.

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Next on the programme was an overview of the role of the mental health leaders by Humphrey Kofie, Country Facilitator. He said the Mental Health Leaders (MHL) were basically responsible for setting the National Mental Health Advocacy Agenda and reporting back to the Council, what they would have achieved and what challenges they were encountering over the next few months.

Mr Fudahunsi Olawoyer, was next to present the Nigeria experience on the role mental health leaders and what they have been doing. He said the mental health leadership had just been constituted and were very active people who hope to support toe mental health advocacy agenda set by the Country Facilitator for Nigeria. He said he was very hopeful and optimistic that they will; live up to expectation.

Next was a presentation by the Country Facilitator for Ghana, Humphrey Kofie on the proposed mental health advocacy agenda. After his presentation, he invited suggestions and inputs, but many were those who thought that, it reflected the mental health advocacy priority for the nation.

An interactive session of members during the meeting of mental health leaders in Accra, Ghana

Infact some of the comments were that a good number of the activities will be achieved so soon. There were no clarifications sought after all the presentations. This took the meeting to the end with a closing prayer from Doris Appiah Danquah.

Second mhLAP Stakeholder Council Meeting held on the 19th of July, 2012.

The meeting was to offer members of the Stakeholder Council an opportunity to appraise themselves with the mental health advocacy agenda and also review them. In the next council meeting, they were to measure assess the implementation of the mental health advocacy agenda set during the previous stakeholder council meeting. In all, about 17 members were in attendance.

Doris Appiah Danquah said the opening prayer to begin the meeting. In his welcome address Mr Peter Yaro welcomed members who had travelled from far and near especially Woye, from Nigeria. He recounted the history of the Mental Health and Leadership programme and how it has evolved over the period. He was optimistic of fruitful deliberations.

The next activity was a powerpoint presentation of an overview of the role of the stakeholder council, and it was led by Humphrey Kofie, Country Facilitator of mhLAP Ghana. After his presentation, there were no questions. The meeting moved to the next item, which involved “sharing the experience of the Stakeholder Council in Nigeria” by the Coordinator of mhLAP in Ibadan, by Olwawoyer Fadhunsi. He said there was a Stakeholder Council in Nigeria in place in Nigeria which was established by the WHO, tasked to work on the mental

Health legislation in Nigeria in 1999. He said after a while, the Council became defunct. Explaining it, Olwawoyer Fadhunsi said with the introduction of the mhLAP project the stakeholder Council was re-constituted with a few members of the defunct Stakeholder Council brought on board. He said currently the Council had been established and functioning.

After Olwawoyer Fadhunsi’s presentation another presentation by Humphrey on the Agenda set and agreed by the mental health leaders.

This was also followed by comments and clarifications. Members were of the opinion that the Council represented the broad spectrum of institutions and organization that were advocates of mental health in Ghana.

Again, the Council agreed therefore that resources should be pulled together by the council members to plan and commemorate the World Mental Health Day celebration. As a result, a four member committee was constituted to meet with the Chief Psychiatrist on the 23rd July, 2012 at 3:00pm to find out what preparation the Ghana Health Service was putting in place to celebrate the World Mental Day.

Eventually all the activities constituting the agenda for the mental health advocacy agenda for the next one year were approved by the council.

Concluding, the Coordinator of the mhLAP programme in Ibadan made his closing remarks when he said he was personally very happy to be part of the meeting and said Nigeria was ready to learn from Ghana, the strives they had made in mental health.


He thanked members for their corporation and hoped that they carried out successfully the agenda they had set for themselves. The meeting closed at 12:30pm



Comments on our Training

‘It was a nice multicultural experience from different African countries and a means of networking. Thank you very much’

Roseline –A – Okoth, University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences, Kenya

 

 

‘The course was very interesting, informative, educative and very interactive. The application of group work after every lecture also facilitates practical applicability of all the lectures. I have learnt various multidimensional means of promoting, preventing and carrying out advocacy for many areas of mental health disorders. I congratulate the organizers for a great work’

Dr. A.O Coker

‘Exposure to mental health care perspectives from various countries has given me a well rounded perspective of mental health care in Africa’

 

Aneshrey Moodley,  Consultant psychiatrist, South Africa

‘I had a good experience both with the facilitators and co-participants. This is more in terms of the multidisciplinary approach to mental health issues. There was clear absence of over simplified assumptions for professional convenience (psychiatrists).’

 

Akpoju Ogbole Samuel, Programme Officer, Nigeria

‘Learning took place formally during the session and during the group work. Significant learning also took place during informal interaction out of session learning about the experiences in different country. I feel better equipped to function in the stakeholder council and also in my work as head of a faith based health need’

 

Walter Carew, Executive Director, (CHASL) Sierra Leone

The training was adequate because the content addressed my areas of need i.e. how to promote mental health in communities or schools etc.

BOLA OLA- NIGERIA

Training curriculum was obviously carefully prepared and adequate to equip trainees with requisite information and skills for mental health advocacy. Lectures were usually given in interesting relaxed atmospheres with coordinators allowing for feedback in between sessions. The interactive sessions were very engaging and provided forums for discussions and simulation of practical real life scenarios. The excellence of the training and diversity of the trainees have fueled my passion for mental health advocacy. FOLAKE OGUNDELE-NIGERIA

The training was wonderful in every aspect. The sessions which included top quality of international speakers such as Rachel Jenkins and Harry Minas were highly fulfilling.  The didactic nature of the training was unique. The program could be described as "The more you think about it, the more you thirst for more of such".

FOLA LASEBIKAN- NIGERIA

This training was powerful, encouraging, It boosted my moral in tackling mental health issues, It has built my capacity to advocate in a proper way and It also taught me to think out of the box.

ALBERTINA BARADONGA - NAMIBIA