Dr Christopher Boatbel, the Talensi District Chief Executive (DCE) of the Upper East Region has appealed to the traditional council and the Assembly members to protect persons with mental disorders from abuse.
He said the Traditional Council and the Assembly members were influential people in the communities and could help protect the fundamental human rights of persons with mental disorder and help them seek medical care.
The DCE made the appeal at a durbar in Tongo, the district capital, organized by the Basic Needs Ghana an NGO with support from the UKAID.
The programme was to educate Assembly members, Chiefs and the public on the need to promote and enhance mental health services in the area.
Dr Boatbel condemned the maltreatment some families and communities meted out to persons with mental disorder which he said was against the rights of the individuals and urged the Community Development and Social Welfare Unit of the Assembly to broaden education and sensitize the people to stop such acts.
The DCE disclosed that persons with mental disorders would be registered under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) to enable them derive maximum benefits from the two percent of the District Assembly Common Fund meant for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).
As part of measures to provide income generating activities to some persons with mental disorders, Dr Boatbel said they would be trained under the District Assembly Business Advisory Centre.
Mr Adams Dokurugu, the Programme Manager of Basic Needs-Ghana, explained that traditional rulers especially the chiefs were critical in the fight against the maltreatment of persons with mental disorders but had over the years been relegated to the background and called for their involvement in the campaign.
“Traditional rulers and elders have key roles to play in protecting these vulnerable people in their respective societies. They are sources of protection, hope and inspiration for marginalized people like persons with mental disorders,” Mr Dokurugu stressed.
Mr Edmond Alagpulinsa, the Upper East Regional Principal Investigator of the Commission for Human Rights and Administration of Justice, speaking on the theme “Rights of Persons with Mental Illness or Epilepsy” noted that discrimination against such persons was against the Mental Health Act, adding, “the act laid more emphasis on the fact that the mentally challenged are entitled to a decent life including the right to education, vocational training, leisure, recreational activities and full employment among others.”
He said they were mostly denied access to psychotropic drugs and other psychological rehabilitation interventions and advocated for collective and diverse approach to solve the problem.
Tong-Rana Kubilsong Nalebegtang the Paramount Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area, directed all his sub- chiefs to take measures to have all mentally challenged persons released from confinement by households.
He said all persons including the mentally challenged had a right to enjoy the fundamental human rights and anybody caught maltreating persons with mental disorder would be punished accordingly.
He urged the public to assist the mentally challenged to access treatment at the health facilities.