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Mental Health
Posted by calvinflash (accrapsy) on Aug 20 2015
News >> Mental Health



The Colonial American Society referred to those suffering from mental illnesses as “lunatics” which interestingly enough was derived from the root word “lunar” meaning, “moon”. Through astrological reasoning it was believed that insanity was caused by a full moon at the time of a baby’s birth or a baby sleeping under the light of a full moon. Colonist declared these lunatics were possessed by the devil and usually they were removed from society and locked away. Although the colonial era’s method of handling the mentally ill and medical procedures could be considered barbaric by present- day standards, the vast majority of people were content because the lunatics were no longer visible in the society.
Dating as far back as the 14th century, King Edward II of England made a legislation (Prerogativa Regis) recognizing Mental Healthcare even though the form of treatment was custodian, which explains that the mentally sick were kept further away from their homes for their own safety or that of others, mechanical restraint and flogging were intentionally practiced. This was because mental illness wasn’t really explained by science at the time.

In 1820, King George III England’s longest ruling monarch before Queen Victoria, the King under whose reign America gained independence suffered from what is now termed Bipolar Affective Disorder, (BBC, April 5, 2013) this explains that mental illness is no respecter of persons. One will ask, why am I bothering Ghanaians with the history of the English on Mental Health? After all they colonized us; After all they first found it expedient to legitimize the care of the mentally ill. With all that said, let me return to my homeland Ghana.
The story in Ghana hasn’t been the same. Before the colonial masters arrived in Ghana, individuals who suffered from mental illness were branded witches or priests depending on the signs and symptoms demonstrated and the perceptions by the society. Some of these attitudes are presently upheld in many Ghanaian societies. This explains the rush with which people move to the scenes of the alleged “witch-burst”. With the insurgence of social media, the phenomenon has exacerbated, pseudo journalists have emerged. These individuals with miniature hippocampus and atrophied cerebrums do not even care about the dignity of the individual involved and always at the fast side to giving out information. This best explains why even with at least three (3) specialist Psychiatric Hospitals, and numerous Community Psychiatric Units attached hospitals around the country, people still decide to send their mentally ill relatives to spiritualist homes before even thinking about the hospital.

With the passage of the Mental Health Acts 846, 2012 which has received commendation from International Societies, Ghana Mental Health was hoped to be restored in the field of proper and quality mental healthcare. Surprisingly this hope has progressed into or is progressing into a mirage. Admissions into the three Specialist Psychiatric Hospitals the country can boast of has been halted for the past two (2) years. The buildings are in a deplorable state, some even have structures which since its inception have not been completed and still counting its fate.

The rampant shortage of emergency psychotropic medications like Diazepam, Haloperidol, Chlorpromazine not to mention but few is also a serious dimension of Mental Healthcare in our Country coupled with the over reliance of psychotropic medication to the detriment of occupational therapy.

First line generation medications used in treatment of ancient mental illness are still encouraged in our system of practice upon its high adverse reactions and serious complications it possess on the mentally ill persons all in the name of “lack of money”.

The basic needs of these patients in our Hospitals are also very appalling. The quantity and quality of food served in these facilities are nothing to write home about. The hard truth is that Ghana’s Mental Healthcare is gradually breaking down. We recognize that no one wants to point to his father’s house with his/her left finger. Nevertheless when the reality appears miserable, sorry, below average, pitiful, and paltry, then as a concern citizen, I dare make a humble contribution



 Now lets us move a little away and talk on the escalated controversial case of Charles Antwi. The one who could have “literary” brought the whole of Ghana into a state of confusion. The least said about it the better. In my fear not to be put before any court for contempt, I will stay away from the substance of the case. An aspect of the case that caught my attention which I would want to subjectively touch on in my understanding, is did Charles really say………..

1. “He killed the late president (President John Atta Mills)”?
2. He also did that to be president and that he was doing the current one also to become the president?

This case also showed how intellectuals battled with ignorance. People said the attempts on the presidents life was too coordinated such that it couldn’t be that Charles was insane, some also said his speech was so coherent and that it couldn’t be from an insane person. These two statements above brings to the fore, the need to intensify public Mental Health education, because even a student psychiatric nurse can tell everything pathologically wrong with what Charles said and can also recognize the intellectual deficiencies in the two speeches made by supposed elites. Another concern I want to raise is that, Where were the various Mental Health Societies, the Psychiatrist and the Psychiatry fraternity? Charles could have better still been sent to a Psychiatric facility to clear all doubts of Suffering from a trace in mental illness before making him go through these “harsh” sanctions. I believe that if there is lot of public knowledge on mental health, people like Charles, maayehot-adenta witches and all the other supposed witches would have been spared the shot of public ridicule. The tragic of these are the reminders that mental illness like cancer, heart diseases or any other medical condition is no respecter of person. It can happen to anyone and those who overlook or underestimate it. Those who think it’s something that only happens to other people, just don’t know how close to home it probably already is.

 Long live Mental Healthcare,

 Long live “Psychoeducation”

Tales from a concerned lover of mental healthcare in Ghana……

Berchie Antwi Isaac


Last changed: Aug 20 2015 at 7:13 PM

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Recommendation By Guest on May 08 2016 at 9:28 PM
Thanks Sir for the write up. We certainly have to keep educating the public on mental health and its related issuesThanks Sir for the write up. We

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