Mental health awareness in various parts of the world has reached a level steering away from negative stereotypes. Here in Ghana, we are beginning to see the shift as well.

Organizations and ministries are partnering to help educate on mental health awareness in positive ways throughout communities. This year the King’s Village, along with CHAG (Christian Health Association of Ghana), agreed to take part in the initiative to share information and resources on mental health to the Tolon-Kumbungu district. 

Every two weeks Stephen Asante, a psychiatric nurse, and Pastor Robert ride a motobike into various communities to identify and treat patients with mental illness. They visit current patients and their families to get updates on how the individual is reacting to medication, as well as educate the families who are the primary caretakers of the patients.

In just over two months the team has identified and begun treating about 11 individuals diagnosed with mental illness. Stephen and Pastor Roberts take time while visiting the communities to identify new patients as well. Not only do they observe individuals to spot any new cases but also the community comes to them. “We tell patients to ask around and let us know if there is anyone with similar behaviors and symptoms,” the nurse said. They always return from the field with new patients. The diagnosis’ vary but mostly Stephen identifies cases that relate to Schizophrenia, Autism, ADHD, and illnesses directly related to Epilepsy. 

For now, when administering treatments it is a must that the patients have family that can help monitor their medication as well as be an encouragement in their daily lives. “When they are being treated, they need to be integrated back into their communities and families. They need to feel loved,” Stephen expressed. If the patient doesn’t have family, the team looks for community members who will take on responsibility to help during the treatment process.

Often in our surrounding communities, as well as all over the country, mental illness comes with an extremely negative stereotype. Due to lack of knowledge about mental health, some community members blame it on evil spirits when individuals show signs of mental illness. Isolation and local treatments (i.e. prayer camps) for the individual are taken into action. Not fully understanding the medical reasoning behind mental illness, the treatments performed could be inhumane and harsh. 

This is why we are so thankful for our staff and their desire to start a new program solely focusing on mental health awareness and treatment. With the support from the district Director of Health and other local organizations, the team is enthusiastic about the development of this program and have already seen the benefits of their labor. They are being strategic about developing the program by establishing goals and steps to achieve those set goals. Overall this program will do more than just identify and treat patients, but it will also focus on research and writing case studies to help continue adding to the information regarding the mental health in this area.

Posted by The King's Village Tue, November 22, 2016 17:23:46