Ghana�s current mental health service delivery has a 97 per cent treatment gap, Dr Akwasi Osei, the Chief Psychiatrist, said on Friday.
This, he said, is an indication that 97, out of a100 mental patients, who require health care, do not get it.
Dr Osei disclosed this at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference organised by the Mental Health Foundation Ghana with support from the Australian Embassy in Ghana.
The event was on the theme: �Understanding Inclusion and Stigma Reduction�.
He said a recent study showed that Ghana had 41 per cent prevalence of psychological distress in various degrees, meaning as many 47 in a 100 admitted were under negative stress which affected them mentally.
Dr Osei said 19 per cent of those with negative stress had moderate to severe symptoms meaning their problem was serious enough to be considered a mental illness.
These notwithstanding, he said, mental health care was largely limited to the urban area and even more specifically to the middle and northern belts of the country with only three psychiatric hospitals and 12 practicing psychiatrists for the 25 million people.
He said the required number of professionals for a low income country was 150, but Ghana has 12, 700 psychiatric nurses instead of 30,000 and four clinical psychologists instead of a 100.
�The field of mental health in Ghana is vast and the workers are few�, he said.
Dr Osei, however, painted a bright picture for the future, saying, the restructuring and overhauling of the mental health care system and a new mental health act awaiting implementation would improve the situation.
He said the provision of the above would ensure decentralisation and de-institutionalisation of mental health care; place emphasis on community care and the training of mental health personnel; increase allocation of resources and the establishment of a full complement of mental health care.
Alongside the intended restructuring are the contribution by various organisations and initiatives, he said, and called for efforts to be coordinated and harmonised so as not to dissipate energy and duplicate functions and resources.
Prof Joseph Bediako Asare, former Chief Psychiatrist, who chaired the function, said he was happy that there was a law in place and advised implementing institutions to ensure that the right structures were created to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.
He urged persons with mental illness to seek professional help and back it with prayers and not the other way round to prevent their condition from getting worse.
The Australian High Commissioner, Ms Joana Adamson, paid glowing tribute to Francis Acquah, a Ghanaian Mental Health Nurse in Australia and President of the Mental Health Foundation Ghana, for his enthusiasm and commitment to raise awareness and improve the situation of persons living with mental health illness.
She said in Australia, one out of five people suffered some form of mental illness and that half of the population could also experience mental illness during their lives.
She said the situation could be similar in Ghana and noted that it was for that reason that the Embassy accepted to support the programme.
Mr Acquah, who is the brain behind the conference, said he was touched by a human rights report on mental illness in Ghana and decided to help to improve lives of person living with mental illness.
He said he partnered with Helen Walters, a mental health nurse consultant in Australia, who shared his vision of establishing the Foundation.
The Foundation aims at promoting positive attitudes in Ghana, collaborate with Government to improve mental health services and increase funding and stimulate the development of informed public debate and opinion about mental health.
The Foundation also seek to endorse a philosophy of choice and inclusiveness for people who have mental illness, their families and their friends as they work towards achieving their hopes and goals.
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