Traditional authorities and religious leaders have been asked to use their influence to promote inclusiveness by ensuring that mentally ill people were not marginalised and discriminated against in terms of their developmental needs.
Mr Stanislaus Azuure Sandow, Project Officer at BasicNeeds – Ghana, who made the appeal, said mentally ill people enjoyed the same rights and freedoms like any other member of society calling on all to stop all forms of abuses against them.
He was speaking at a durbar organised by BasicNeeds – Ghana at Larabanga in the West Gonja District of the Northern Region to create awareness on epilepsy and the Mental Health Act, which granted rights to mental health patients.
The durbar, which was held in five other districts including Karaga, West Mamprusi, East Gonja and Yendi Municipality in the region, formed part of a project to build a national mental health system that effectively and efficiently responded to the mental health needs of the population.
The project is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and is aimed at increasing access to quality mental healthcare services through integration into primary healthcare.
It is also to improve health outcomes while eliminating extreme poverty amongst people with mental illness and epilepsy among their families in the country.
Mr Sandow urged traditional authorities, religious leaders, and heads of various families to support in encouraging families to send their mentally ill relatives to hospital for treatment.
He urged chiefs to discourage people from chaining mentally ill patients and urged them to also punish those who abused mentally ill people.
He emphasised that “Mentally ill persons have the right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect, free from sexual harassments, physical assaults, domestic abuse, discriminatory abuse, psychological abuse and financial abuse.”
Mr Charles Senyoh, West Gonja District Psychiatric Nurse said efforts were being made to ensure regular supply of drugs to mental health patients at their doorsteps to aid their recovery.
Mr Senyoh said mental health condition was manageable urging people to accept mental health patients, which could help them to recover.
Abudu Seidu, Chief Imam of Larabanga commended BasicNeeds – Ghana for their efforts at encouraging support for mental health patients assuring that his outfit would work to promote the rights of mental health patients.