The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei, has stated that Parliament will, in June, pass the legislative instrument (LI) which will support the enforcement of the Mental Health Act passed in 2012.
The Act enables the provision and creation of modern and community-based mental health systems, and for the protection of the rights of persons with mental disorders. It has however not been backed by an L.I since its passage.
Speaking at the launch of “QualityRight in mental health,” an initiative that seeks to protect the rights of the mentally-disabled, stigmatized Akwasi Osei said the LI would help the authority improve and maintain quality mental healthcare delivery in the country.
“For the last two years, you realise the Authority didn’t even have a Mental Health Board. Thank God it is going to be formed in the next week, so we are really grateful. Once we have the Board, it is no longer one person talking, it’s the Board consisting of about eleven people who will now take it up and play the advocacy, lobby and get the funds, that is very important.
“The LI spells out the mechanism by which you get the levy established and that is going to be passed very soon, by the end of the second sitting of parliament in June.”
According to him the institutionalization of a board for the Authority will help in streamlining its operations.
“Once we have all three, the Board, the LI and the Levy, the Mental Health Authority will be poised to fully support quality rights initiatives even after the three years mandated time and delivery proper mental health in the country,” Dr. Akwasi Osei added.
He further stated that strict sanctions would be meted out to health professionals who violate the directives in the Act.
“As part of the Mental Health Law, sanctions are there. If you abuse the rights or even withhold the privileges you need to give to the person because he has mental illness, both by your act of commission and omission can take you to the police and you will receive the appropriate sanctions.
“This may include a fine of about six thousand penalty unit, which is sixty thousand Ghana cedis or imprisonment up to five years or both,” he stated.
The plight of the mentally challenged
Physical, mental and emotional abuse is often meted out to the mentally disabled, which in turns to slow down their journey to recovery.
These acts mostly occur in the homes, communities and even the hospitals by health officials.
The Mental Health Authority has therefore collaborated with the World Health Organization to provide training to health professionals, individuals and other stakeholders involved in offering mental health care.
“We are rolling out the world health organization’s e-training program in Ghana on Mental Health, Disability and Human Rights. So the idea is if we can train one person, we can positively improve the lives of twenty people with mental health conditions, psychosocial disability and intellectual disability.
“The key step after this launch is to disseminate the e-training program throughout the whole of Ghana, and to all the stakeholder groups,” Dr. Michelle Funk Coordinator of Global QR Initiative, from the World Health Organization explained.
She was hopeful that this will result in a “community which is much more aware of how to support people with mental health and intellectual conditions, see much more respect for the human rights, we are going to see higher quality of mental health services that people are happy to go to rather than feeling stigmatised by the services.”