Ghana, Africa: Progressing Mental Health Service Redesign

Meeting healthcare professionals in Ghana
Outside the Mental Health Authority in Ghana
Life in Ghana

Mednet’s directors, Miranda and Ian, have returned from Africa following a trip to engage with the Mental Health Authority in Ghana, with a view to establish a model of care that will help them to realise their vision enshrined in the Mental Health Act 2012.

We met with members of government, charities and faith leaders to understand the challenges in delivering services to people living with the most debilitating mental health issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that of the 21.6 million people living in Ghana, 650,000 are suffering from a severe mental disorder and a further 2,166,000 are suffering from a mild to moderate mental disorder.1

We gained a complete understanding of how mental health services function currently, the challenges they face, the opportunities to deliver better care and how Mednet can support and optimise service delivery, by visiting hospitals and prayer camps.

At Accra Psychiatric Hospital, the oldest of three psychiatric hospitals with a 600 bed capacity, we visited the forensic, adult and children’s wards and met with the senior leadership team within the hospital.

We also visited the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital, opened in 1975. Here, Miranda and Ian met with the director of the hospital, which was planned to be a Pan-African Mental Health Village, to discuss their unique offering.

With a centralised mental health system and little community care, many people with mental health issues live in prayer camps. We visited a camp and gained an understanding that any proposed model of care would need to engage faith leaders, as spiritual belief is very much core to the Ghanaian culture. For people living with mental health issues, solutions need to address medical, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of peoples’ wellbeing.

Both Accra and Pantang have worked to improve their approach to managing their patients by setting up assessment wards to effectively diagnose and understand the needs and challenges of their inpatient population, with a view to help people get the right care, whether in hospital or the community.

Our directors gained agreement from the Mental Health Authority, Government, hospitals, charities and a prayer camp to engage in a pilot care model focused on keeping people living with mental health issues in their communities, whilst engaging with their families and wider society. We look forward to visiting Ghana again as this exciting project progresses.

See: http://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/country/ghana/en/