Basic Needs, Ghana - The Pioneer Of Mental Health In Ghana

Dokurugu Adam Yahaya,the Community Projects Coordinator for Basic Needs Ghana, a non- governmental organisation (NGO) has noted that Basic Needs is a pioneer development agency in mental health in the country. He said mental health and development model uses a holistic and multi-faceted approach, facilitating treatment and stability for poor people with mental illness and epilepsy, working towards reducing poverty through sustainable livelihoods and promoting human rights. Mr. Adam Yahaya made these statements in an interview with this reporter in Tamale during the week. According to him, Basic Needs, Ghana, has implemented over sixteen projects ranging over a spectrum of initiatives. Their works include the mental health needs of women and children, the ground-breaking horticultural therapy projects, and skills training as a prelude to securing livelihoods for mentally ill and epilepsy, research, media –creating awareness in communities and influencing policy. He mentioned that they are currently working in the three northern regions of Ghana and Accra and the total number of mentally ill people they have reached from their outfit as at march 31, 2012 is 19,686, made up of 7,788 male, 7,884 female and 4,014 children. The Coordinator disclosed that, Basic Needs Ghana is currently implementing large projects designed to bring enduring change in the lives of people with mental illness and epilepsy, adding that, the NGO has 153 self-help groups and regional alliances across the four regions. According to him, the NGO also organises inspirational forums where people with mental illness and epilepsy find a voice and a launching pad for personal growth and livelihood opportunity. Other activities include the psychiatric units constructed at the Upper East Regional hospital, Wa. The NGO also constructed the Usher Polyclinic which serves as a treatment centre and at the same time offers a platform for other recreational and social activities. It has also strived to create a more informed and sensitive public through the active dissemination of accurate information about mental health issues, it has again supported in the just passed mental health Bill. “European Union funded a project of Basic Needs that seeks to ensure secure livelihoods for people with mental illness, epilepsy and their attendants in the country,” he said. He said they have another NGO called the Mental Health society of Ghana (MHSOG) which is a broad-based grass root membership association of mental health and epilepsy service users and their primary care-givers with members across the country. According to him their works is to represent the needs and interest of people with mental illness or epilepsy as well as primary care-givers and families. The association has memberships of over 18,000 across the country. MHSOG was established by a strategic g grant provided to Basic Needs Ghana by Comic Relief UK, to grow the existing self help groups and develop structures that allowed broad-based participation of people with mental illness or epilepsy and their primary carers in decision-making. It objectives are to bring all people with mental illness and epilepsy, including people who have experienced one form of mental illness and epilepsy in Ghana into a unified and representative association. It is also to promote the socio-economic well being of people with mental illness and epilepsy and to co-operate with likeminded associations and bodies as well as with the government of Ghana and advocate in pursuit of the advancement of mental health. MEHSOG is to educate the public and increase interest in psycho-social disability issues to reduce stigma, to empower user groups to self advocate and fulfil their rights, influence key policy decision makers to develop policies and legislations that address the needs and rights of people with mental illness and their primary cares , and also to develop programmes and provide a national outlook and to empower communities to ensure social and economic integration of people with mental disorders and epilepsy.