A day after the sad death of the University of Ghana, Legon student, we are beginning to understand more than ever before the challenges of mental health and how we have ignored this reality for too long to our detriment as a people.
The question as to whether what happened to our poor girl could have been avoided is a definite affirmative.
Even more intriguing is the similar path taken by a 16-year-old girl outside Accra, an occurrence which surprised many given her tender age.
Chances are that this girl too posted unusual tendencies but nobody bothered to intervene.
She certainly could have withdrawn to herself to the extent that she could no longer contain the situation she found herself in. The parents did not see it, let alone seek medical health.
We live in a country or society where mental health invites an automatic stigmatization by even family members. When a person who has ever suffered a depression and sought mental attention gets incensed about a situation and screams, just anybody else in the society would react to the situation saying he or she is suffering a relapse of the earlier mental health. This suggests that the person would live with the mental health till death.
Ignorance has many negative fallouts, one of which is how we react or not to a mental condition overlooking the expert intervention in a facility set up for such purposes.
We largely think erroneously that the only persons, who need the intervention of psychiatrists, are those who strip naked and walk about in the street.
With the high incidence of, especially, girls committing suicide in recent times, we think it is time that we mount a massive educative campaign on what constitutes a mental condition and which require intervention of experts.
Thankfully, we have in place a Ghana Mental Health Service; an ample recognition by the state of this all important medical service.
The death of the latest victim of depression has triggered a national conversation which we hope would be sustained until Ghanaians understand that when there is something unusual about, especially, their children, the need to engage a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist should not be marginalized.
It was sad learning that the Legon student was exhibiting obvious symptoms of depression which could have easily been managed long before the untoward happened.
We have learnt how suicide occurs when the mental state of a victim of depression hits a crescendo and the brain can no longer cope with the situation in which the victims find themselves.
Suicide is not a simple thing to undertake and would only take place when those around the victim fail to observe that something unusual is taking place about them.
Let us assist those who exhibit unusual traits by insisting on having them consult experts, otherwise we would be confronted with situations which visited the University of Ghana, Legon a couple of days ago.
What is the state of counseling on our campuses? From what we are hearing, these facilities are hardly patronized.
Indeed many students do not know where they are sited let alone seek the attention of the experts there when the need arises.
Many persons even outside our tertiary institutions require the intervention of clinical psychologists, especially, married women because of the conditions they find themselves in as a result of certain factors.