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‘Consider building psychiatric institutions as part of 88 new hospitals’ – Group petitions Nana Addo

The Mental Health Nurses Group (MHNG) in Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital has petitioned President Nana Akufo-Addo to consider the construction of psychiatric hospitals across the country in the wake of COVID-19.

The group said the psychiatric hospitals could be built as part of the 88 hospitals the President announced will be constructed across the country.

“With reference to your last update on the measures taken against the spread of Coronavirus in Ghana on 26th April, 2020, in which you announced the construction of 88 districts hospitals in the districts without hospitals in Ghana, we petition your high office to, as a matter of necessity, consider the construction of some psychiatric hospitals across the country out of the 88 intended in the various districts to serve the need of mental health care,” portions of a statement from the group said.

The group believes the provision of district psychiatric hospitals will assist in managing psychiatric emergencies, including managing mental issues relating to COVID-19.

“It will also in the long term serve the purpose of the Mental Health Law, 2012 (Act 846) which focuses on decentralizing mental health care to the community level to ease the pressure on the only three state psychiatric hospitals in Ghana and also ease the burden on family and relatives who have to travel long distances to access mental health care at the only three psychiatric hospitals in the country,” the statement added.

There have been concerns about the government not paying enough attention to mental healthcare in Ghana.

Some have suggested that mental healthcare has not seen any improvement, despite the passing of the Mental Health Act in 2012.

Some psychiatric hospitals in the country keep deteriorating, forcing health officials at some of these facilities to call for the government’s intervention.

Some of these hospitals have, in some instances, also turned away patients due to the lack of basic supplies.

At a point, the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital in the Central Region threatened to discharge over 100 patients due to the lack of funds to run the facility.

Need for mental health fund

The Mental Health Authority has, in the past, urged the government to pass the Legislative Instrument (LI) on Mental Health to end the frustration of Psychiatric Hospitals continually relying on government for funding.

The LI includes the establishment of the mental health fund which will provide funds to run the various mental health facilities in the country.

Ghana has a Mental Health Bill that was passed into law in 2012, but observers have noted that it lacks the necessary LI for its smooth implementation to help navigate the problems that have plagued mental health care in Ghana.

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