Stakeholders in the Upper East Region have appealed to religious organisations and the Corporate world to complement government's efforts in mental healthcare financing.
The stakeholders made the appeal at the Self-Help Groups (SHGs) Interface Meeting held in Zebilla, Bawku West District of the Upper East Region, as part of activities earmarked for this year's World Mental Health Day (WMHD) which falls on October 10 annually.
It was held on the theme, "Mental Health for All-Greater Investment, Greater Access".
The event organised by BasicNeeds-Ghana and the Upper East Alliance for Mental Health and Development and funded by Ghana Somubi Dwumadie through UKaid, attracted stakeholders including; Department of Social Welfare, Persons With Disabilities, Ghana Health Service, Social Services Committees and Chairmen of the Disability Fund Management Committee of the District Assemblies.
According to the stakeholders, Government alone could not address the challenges confronting the increasing number of mental health patients in the streets and communities in Ghana especially their health.
The group said the three per cent of District Assembly Common Fund made for the entire Persons With Disability was woefully inadequate considering the medication and healthcare of the large numbers of mental patients in the country.
While calling on the Municipal and District Assemblies in the country to incorporate Mental Health issues into their Medium Term Development Plans, the groups also called on BasicNeeds-Ghana to collaborate with other development partners to see how they could mobilize funds to implement mental health activities.
They stressed the need for BasicNeeds-Ghana and the Upper East Alliance for Mental Health and Development to facilitate to get people who were knowledgeable in proposal writing to source for funding to help finance mental health and to train SHGs on Village Savings and Loans Association Scheme to contribute their own resources to support and finance their activities.
Mr Robert Awinzo, the Bawku West District Director of the Department of Social Welfare, in his presentation said many households in almost all the six Districts bordering the Bawku Zones had at least one member with mental health problems and underscored the need to sensitize community members on the issue and how it affected them and the community.
"Community members must be educated and sensitised on how to show care and be compassionate to mental health patients and not to discriminate and maltreat them. We must also engage the Members of Parliament to dedicate some amount of their Common Fund for mental health activities, he stressed.
In a speech read on her behalf by Mr Paul Musah, the District Engineer, Mrs Victoria Ayamba, the Bawku West District Chief Executive, lauded BasicNeeds-Ghana and the UKaid for their enormous role at complementing government's efforts at tackling the challenges confronting mental health patients.
Mr Benard Azure, the Upper East Regional Project Officer of BasicNeeds-Ghana, stated that his outfit and its donor partners viewed mentally challenged persons as important to society who deserved attention and noted that it was based on that, that his outfit over the years was supporting such vulnerable groups to live in dignity.
He said 338 persons with Mental Illness or epilepsy were supported with livestock, sewing machines after training, and a cash grant of GH?40,925.00 given to such vulnerable groups to go into vegetable gardening to fend for themselves.