• Francis Gadigbe

Mental Health Treatment Gap Keeps Widening

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

The gap between the number of people with mental disorders and those who get treatment is still gapping despite measures put in place to handle the challenge.

About 2.8 million people living in Ghana have varied forms of mental disorders but only three percent of the number receives some form of treatment, according to World Health Organisation study, putting the treatment gap at 97 percent.

This means that only three out of hundred people who require mental healthcare are able to access such care in the country.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day validation workshop on Regional Mental Health Strategic Plan For West Africa, Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, corroborated the challenge but said data on treatment has improved.

“Though this data has since improved and the treatment gap should be less than 80 percent, all due to the pragmatic measures put in place, the reality is that we still have a long way to go,” he said.

Dr Osei mentioned that mental health gets no more than 1.4 percent of the total health budget in Ghana, although it accounts for seven percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) loss.

“These have serious implications for the nation, and I am sure it is no different among other states in the sub-region,” he revealed.

He said the non-passage of the LI to support the Mental Health Act and the lack of an independent funding through the Mental Health Levy called for by the Mental Health Act is still a challenge the country needs to address.

WAHO Workshop Dr Carlos Brito, Acting Director of the Department for Disease & Epidemic Control, WAHO, said the three-day workshop in Accra will afford mental health experts in the sub-region the common platform to fashion out a draft policy aimed at harmonising mental healthcare in West Africa.

He said the experts drawn from all 15-member ECOWAS states include representatives of mental health professional associations, mental health institutions, researchers and mental health champions, will be looking at ways of building capacity in the region for integrated and sustainable approaches to tackling mental disorders in West Africa.

“This workshop was a result of the need to have a strategic plan in mental health from prevention to treatment so we are here to validate the draft plan will learning best practices from countries like Ghana,” he added.

Source: Mental Health Authority of Ghana

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