By: Jerry Akornor/, Ghana.

Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) has called on government to immediately make research on mental disorders and depression related issues a priority to arrest the alarming cases of suicide in Ghana after Mental Health Authority revealed 1,500 suicides are committed annually.

The call follows latest revelations by the Mental Health Authority that, 1 in 5 people in Ghana have mental problems, 7% of Ghana’s GDP is lost to mental health issues and about 1,500 suicides are committed annually in Ghana. World Health Organization figures show that a person dies every 40 seconds from suicide worldwide, with 25 more people making an attempt. This puts the data of persons dying averagely per year to suicide at approximately 800,000 and Ghana has its fair share of this number.

According to a member of the GPA and Head of University of Ghana’s Department of Psychology Prof. Joseph Osafo, similar research also shows that depressed persons are three-times likely to commit suicide.

Speaking at an event in honour of the 2020 World Mental Health Month celebration via zoom by Rotary Club of Accra-South, Ghana Psychological Association, University of Ghana and Mental Health Authority, the Clinical Psychologist and Mental Health Consultant Prof. Joseph Osafo said “Government needs to prioritize depression, mental health issues and spell out the specific direction to focus on, we need national data to work with”.

Contributing to the debate, a Lecturer at University of Ghana’s Department of Economics, Dr. Gloria Afful-Mensah wants government to implement appropriate interventions and policies to overcome depression, mental disorders and other forms of postpartum psychosis. According to the Health Economist, research shows that the “level of mental disorders among Ghana’s labour force accounts for low productivity and GDP limiting the country from fully optimising its  human resources potentials”.

Meanwhile, Head of Methodist University College of Ghana’s Department of Social Sciences, Lawyer Dr. Charlotte Omane Kwakye -Nuako says depression and mental disorders inhibits justice delivery in Ghana. According to her,  “evidence shows that some suspects that are put before courts in Ghana do not have required mental capacity at the time of committing offences levelled against them, inhibiting justice delivery during trials because it is difficult to prove that mentally, they had intention to commit the very crimes they were arrested for”.

On her part, Psychologist in-Charge of Therapy and Wellness Department at the 37 Military Hospital and Former President of Ghana Psychological Association, Dr. Erica Danfrekua Dickson, has charged government to train and employ more experts to the sector to improve mental health  services delivery.

According to her, “only 16 psychologists are employed by the Ghana Health Service, 98% of mental health patients are unable to get the required treatment and services in Ghana. The poor and intolerant attitudes of the public prevents experts from willing to work within the depression and mental health departments of health facilities”.

The theme for the event focuses on “Depression on the Mental Health Ladder : Health Care Neglect and Economic Cost”.

Participants were Head of Service Projects Committee and Charter President of Rotary Club of Accra South Lawyer Tony Lithur, President of Rotary Club Accra South Gerry Vandyck, District 9102 Governor of Rotary International Yvonne Kumoji-Darko, Joseph Ansah, President of Ghana Psychological Association Dr. Collins Badu Agyemang, National Vice President Rev. Albright Benibensu, PRO, Mrs. Joy Anima Debra, CEO of Mental Health Authority Prof. Akwasi Osei and PRO Mr. Kweku Asenso Brobbey.

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