World Mental Health Day Marked

Dr. Pinaman Appau

Medical Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Pinaman Appau, has called for a greater investment in the country’s mental healthcare, particularly the mental well-being of the youth.

According to Dr. Appau, young people are often faced with challenges due to the unique stage of their lives and must, therefore, have a support system that can help them go through those challenges so they do not degenerate into mental health issues.

Explaining further, she opined that issues like peer pressure, bad relationships and joblessness often turn into depression when not addressed and “they tend to suffer silently because there are no systems in place to support them or counsel them.”

“But all these should not happen because we can help them deal with it so they do not get to a stage that is difficult to manage,” she said.

Dr. Appau was speaking with DAILY GUIDE during a media engagement to commemorate the 2018 World Mental Health Day Accra Psychiatric Hospital.

Speaking on the theme for the event, ‘Young People & Mental Health In The Changing World’, Dr. Appau stated that the hospital has quite a high number of young people visiting the health facility for treatment.

“If you take substance use or drug abuse, for instance, you will realise that about 10 per cent are the youth, OPD attendance rate is about 30 per cent,” she revealed.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists depression, excessive use of alcohol, drug abuse, stress and anxiety as some of the leading causes of mental illness.

Again, WHO indicates that half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14 and has, therefore, highlighted the need to help young people build mental resilience from an early age to enable them to cope with the challenges of today’s world.

With about 57 per cent of Ghana’s population under the age of 25, the focus on the youth in this year’s Mental Health Day celebration is timely.

Outlining the challenges of the facility, Dr. Appau disclosed that the Accra Psychiatric Hospital is in dire need of a major renovation.

“Built in 1906, no major renovation, wards and bathhouse are bad and it affects the staff who do not have washrooms to use when they come to the health facility,” she stressed.

She also lamented the high number of patients abandoned at the facility, totalling about 250, who are putting stress on the limited resources of the hospital.

“It drains the hospital a lot because what it means is that we are buying medications for them for the mental illness, when they fall sick physically, we have to take care of them and sometimes we have to take them out to other health facilities and we have to pay. We are feeding them and we are clothing them it is a major challenge that we need to look at,” she averred.

She, however, called on the public to seek medical care, adding, “If you are not sleeping well and you are having headaches, issues with people and you realise you are sad. It is not everything that may be mental health per say but if it is affecting your mental well-being you should go and have it checked.”

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri