Recent statistics have indicated that half of all mental illnesses begin at the age of 14, with most going undetected. It also named depression as the third leading cause of mental illness among adolescents with suicide being the second leading cause of death, this is according to the mental health authority.
Although this has led to a growing acceptance for people to build mental resilience at an early age, much must be done to create a better understanding of what mental illness is and why it should be given prominence in our daily discussions.
Speaking at the launch of the 2018 Mental Health Week organized by the mental health authority, Medical Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Augustina Pinaman Apau declared that the government has failed to invest in the mental well-being of the youth, as her outfit lacks the needed resources to render the services needed.
She placed emphasis on the need to buoy up continuous dialogues around mental health issues instead of waiting until there are announced strikes and demonstrations amongst mental health personnel.
According to her, “If we want to prosper as a country, we must deal with mental health issues. We need to invest and get the funding needed to run operations. We would also appreciate if the NHIS adds mental health-related issues to their list. In fact, there should be a deliberate intervention aimed at advocacy and behavioral change. There must also be a comprehensive response to the issues of mental health by the government.”
The year’s celebration has been themed; “Young people and mental health in a changing world”.
The week-long event, which is supported by the Ministry of Health is to educate and create awareness on the dangers of mental health to the society and the country at large.
Outlining the activities put together for the week, Dr. Apau said the activities were important because prevention of mental health-related issues begins with a better understanding of the subject matter.
“Today is the official launch of the event, it will be followed by a public lecture then on Saturday we will have a mental health walk and health screening at the Makola Market. We have also arranged for some media sessions so we can interact with people. The Authority also plans to visit some senior high schools to discuss mental health issues and the way forward. This event is not being recognized only in Ghana but in other countries, it is, therefore, important for us to utilize the opportunity,” she indicated.
On his part, the Country Director for World Health Organization, Dr. Owen Kaluwa urged the government to put in place strong support for young people with regards to mental health. This according to him, is because there is no health without mental well-being.