The Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Dr Akwasi Osei, has revealed that there are 55 psychiatrists currently providing mental health service to citizens in the country.
Speaking to The Independent Ghana, he said the psychiatrist to patient ratio in Ghana stands at about 1:800,000, per the current population of over 31million people.
He said “at the time the Mental Health Act was passed in 2012, there were just about 10 psychiatrists. At that time, the population was about 24 million. As we speak right now, there are 55 psychiatrists attending to about 31 million people. That is about 1 to 800,000 people. Much better than 2.4 million. It is still worrying.”
However, Dr Akwasi Osei disclosed that 10 out of about 20 psychiatrist trainees would pass out and increase the current figure to 65 psychiatrists in September.
For him, it is imperative that the Mental Health Authority is able to reduce the psychiatrist to patient ratio to at least 1: 300,000 for the current 1:800,000.
The Mental Health Authority per the Mental Health Act 2012 (Act 846) is mandated to promote mental health and provide humane care including treatment and rehabilitation in the least restrictive environment; and promote a culturally appropriate, affordable, accessible and equitably distributed, integrated and specialized mental health care that will involve both the public and the private sectors.
While interacting with the media, Dr Akwasi Osei also recounted how the number of psychologists and occupational therapists have increased.
Currently, Ghana has about 50 psychologists and seven occupational therapists.
“We are improving. The number of psychologists is also increasing. There was a time we didn’t have a single psychologist in any public health centre, but now, there are about 50. There was a time we didn’t have a single occupational therapist in the country. Now we have about seven,” he said.
It is reported that the government will see to the construction of two psychiatric hospitals to be situated in the middle and northern belt of the country as part of efforts to fight mental health illnesses.
The two facilities would ease the pressure faced by Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Kintampo Hospital, Ankaful Hospital and Pantang Hospital by admitting mental health patients, who ordinarily would have been left unattended.
According to Dr Akwasi Osei, the continent is seeing a growth in mental healthcare delivery.
He, however, said African countries cannot rest on their oars but strife to reach the very top.
“I must say, our mental health care delivery in Africa is among the best. But why should you remain there if you can compete favourably at the top,” he said.