Ghana needs to devote more attention to the mental health of its citizens if it is to see a drastic drop in the rising number of suicide cases confronting it, lawyer and criminologist Professor Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah has said.
He said due to the stigma Ghanaians attached to mental diseases, persons with psychological issues remained reluctant to seek psychiatric help from specialists, a situation, which, he said was pushing such sufferers to give vent to their problems, often with catastrophic results.
Professor Attafuah’s remarks come on the back of Monday’s murder by a police officer of his mother-in-law and two daughters in Tema, after which he turned the gun on himself.
Details have not emerged of the reasons behind the lance corporal’s actions but Prof Attafuah, who is Dean of the Central University College’s Faculty of Law, said psychological trouble could not be far-fetched.
According to him, most people undergoing stress or mental torment often were limited with regard to who to turn to for help and advice as the state and society had not done enough to make such persons available.
He, thus, called for the training of more of such professionals in various levels of society to assist in that regard.
“…We do not take many things seriously. Clinical counsellors, psycho-social counsellors, and those who are skilled in such fields … [let’s] train a lot of them. Every regional, district, and community hospital must have such professionals who will help to deal with such issues, he said on Ghana Yensom, Accra FM’s breakfast show on Tuesday July 26.
He explained that a government agency such as the Department of Social Welfare or the psychology department of a university could take it upon itself to offer free regular training in counselling and community leadership for influential persons in churches, families, and other social groups, who have some basic psychology skills.
Once that is done, he continued, persons going through mental challenges would be able to obtain assistance from a mix of social and professional counsellors.
Due to the “extremely stressful” nature of the work of policemen, which involves handling weapons, and “highly productive of conflict”, the law professor advised the service to periodically conduct counselling, reviews, and assessments for personnel as is done in other jurisdictions.
Prof Attafuah also advocated a “proper pre-recruitment screening” for new recruits of the Ghana Police Service.
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