This year has particularly been tough. The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented global health emergency due to COVID-19 and the resulting implication has impacted on the mental health of millions of people. Obviously, the levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, social distancing and restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress experienced, have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and to find solutions.
According to World Health Organization, there are about 450 million persons living with mental disorders worldwide. Thus mental disorder is one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability across the world. An alarming one in every four persons will be affected by a mental disorder at some stage of their lives while substance abuse exacerbate mental health outcomes; accounting for 13% of the total global burden of disease. Consequently about a quarter of the world’s population are at risk of mental health disorders.
In Ghana, the prevalence of mental illness is about 13% and 1 in 5 out of the total population is expected to suffer mental disorder, Milarly, Addo et al. (2013). They allude that economic burden of mental health care to patients and their families is to a large extent not known. However, they estimate the monthly cost of household mental care to be $60.24, also representing more than a third of family earnings.
The austere picture of Ghana’s mental health situation necessitates a clarion call on all stakeholders to prioritize mental health now more than ever. Admittedly, help is available and most people with mental health problems can get better and recover completely.
Sustainable development goal 17 for good health and wellbeing is geared towards the desire for health equity across the globe to transform our world. Universal health coverage must ensure all persons have equal access to required quality mental health services. To this end, we recommend that governments need to invest more in mental health in terms of infrastructure across the country and human resource training as well as inclusion of mental health coverage in the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Under the current global health emergency no-one should be denied mental health care. National plans to address the impact of COVID-19 on citizens need to seriously incorporate psychosocial support not only for recovered COVID survivors and frontline workers but also for their families, bereaved families, caregivers, persons who have lost their jobs and even parents who are overwhelmed with work and child care stresses. We should double up efforts to embrace all persons suffering from mental disorders and offer them maximum clinical and social support and shun stigmatization and discrimination.
The WHO theme for World Mental Health Day 2020 “Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access, Everyone, everywhere” therefore, is apt in this pandemic, where we are all stunned and grapple with uncertainties. We applaud the resilience of frontline workers and individuals during these difficult times and the social support benefits that encouraged coping mechanisms. The situation requires infusion of heavy doses of psychotherapy and psychosocial services into primary health care. Mental health must be prioritized and made accessible within national and global COVID-19 context. Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) believes in consolidating collaborations and partnerships to ensure more investment is made into improving access to treatment centers that capitalize on professional psychosocial assistance in all districts in Ghana.
It is in this light, that the GPA in partnership with Rotary Club of Accra South (RCAS) Mental Health Authority (MHA) and Department of Psychology, University of Ghana, Legon commemorates the WMHD with pre-event TV and Radio discussions and a Webiner on Friday 9th October, 2020 on the theme “Depression on the Mental Health Ladder: Healthcare Neglect and Economic Cost” This program also launched the Mental Health Resource Center.
We encourage our membership to participate in the 10Ps Campaign (Educate at least 10 Persons on mental health and encourage those in distress to seek help) and remember Psychology is Life.
The commemoration WMHD of is not just an event but a project aimed at increasing awareness and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health issues. Mental health is a human right issue and no one must be left out.