Government is working towards the establishment of a mental health fund to be financed from the mental health levy, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, the Minister of Health, has said.
According to him, the fund when established, would help in the successful implementation of the new mental health policy.
Mr Agyemang Manu, was speaking at the launch of a 12-year mental health policy by the Mental Health Authority, in Accra.
He said the launch of the policy was historic not only because it was the first of its kind under the newly created Authority, but also because the Covid-19 pandemic had brought on board heightened issues of mental health and well-being of Ghanaians.
The Minister said although progress had been made in the delivery of mental services, there were still some challenges including underfunding of mental health issues, underfinancing, discrimination and stigmatisation against staff and patients.
Mr Agyemang-Manu said the launch of the policy should see Ghanaians on the path to improving how they viewed and delivered mental health services in the county, and help provide the framework to address the challenges.
He said the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals had widened health beyond physical health to mental and social wellbeing, thus the attainment of the health related SDG goals could not be eliminated from mental and social wellbeing and that any effort by government and stakeholders would go a long way to ensure that the vision of ensuring a mentally healthy population was achieved.
“The realisation of this vision calls for the reorientation of Ghanaians about mental health and the ability to invest into the sector, thus much as government has improved upon the budgetary allocation to the Authority, it is still not enough.”
He commended the MHA for upholding its mission of promoting mental health, preventing mental illnesses and providing accessible community oriented, integrated, quality and appropriate mental health care to people with mental health and carrying out its mandate diligently.
The Chief Executive, MHA, Professor Akwesi Osei, said the policy was the third to be developed for mental health service, but represented the first policy of the Ministry of Health led by the MHA and initiated by the governing body, the Mental Health Board.
He said the policy was to provide a framework for supporting achievement of good mental health for people living in Ghana, while being sensitive to culture, resources and geography, amongst other considerations.
The policy covers promotion of mental health, prevention and management of mental health conditions for all persons, both in the public and private sectors as well as substance use disorders, including alcohol abuse.
It does not include conditions that are purely neurological without mental health conditions, like epilepsy.
By Joseph Nana Yaw Cobbina