Johnson and Johnson Medical Ghana held a stakeholders meeting in Accra on October 25, 2018 to discuss mental health issues. The event which was dubbed Mental Health Stakeholders Meeting was under the theme ‘Carving the Ideal Mental Health Journey Through Strategic Partnerships.’
The event brought together stakeholder from across the health sector, politicians, policy makers and a section of the general public.
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, who was the Chairman of the event assured stakeholders in mental health care that parliament will work towards the passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI) on Ghana’s Mental Health Act.
He said it was unfortunate that the five year old LI had not been passed, particularly so when its passage would help the Mental Health Authority operate efficiently.
According to statistics 41 per cent of Ghanaians had one form of psychological distress or another and 40 per cent of all cases at any general hospital have some relationship with mental health problem.
Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei who was also a speaker at the event said, “Mental illness reduces lifespan by as much as 12 to 20 years and the high suicide rate of 1,500 deaths per year can be attributed to one mental disorder or another.”
The plight of mental health patients and health worker has been worsened with several challenges including lack of adequate funding. Special guest of honor at the event, Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Her Excellency, Samira Bawumia attested to the fact of inadequate funding. “We cannot afford to lose workers because they can’t afford mental health care,” She said.
“We cannot be unconcerned and we need to act now. As a nation, it is imperative that we make mental health care a priority,” she stressed, and called for awareness creation on mental health and care.
The Country Manager of Johnson and Johnson, Ms Priscilla Owusu-Sekyere, said Janssen Pharmaceutica, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, was fostering mental health partnerships to ensure that no patient was left behind. She added that, her company is using innovative pricing to make mental health drugs cheaply available to patients.
She said Janssen was leading efforts at transforming mental health care by raising awareness, reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, building the capacity of healthcare professionals and improving access to health care.
On building the capacity of healthcare professionals, Ms Owusu-Sekyere said Janssen had so far sponsored 18 students to undergo a year’s training in mental healthcare delivery and improving access to health care.
Several suggestions were made at the meeting as to how mental health care delivery can be made more accessible, effective and efficient. Some of the suggestions were the inclusion of mental health care delivery into the NHIS, the establishment of a mental health board, the incorporation of mental health care into the general health care system and the preparation of a national prevalence data to guide policy and interventions.