No More Chains, Shackles For Mental Health Patients…Culprits To Be Punished - Dr Osei

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei says the situation where mental health patients are chained or put in shackles by prayer camps and healing centres will be a thing of the past by end of year, 2017.

He said anyone who will chain or treat mentally ill patients unfairly will be dealt with especially with the promulgation of the Mental Health Act 2012 which frowns against such act.

The act abolishes chaining, logging, shackling and all forms of inhumane treatment meted at persons with mental illness at any healing or prayer camp.

Few months ago, the Ghana Mental Health Authority rescued about 16 mentally ill persons who were chained to trees for years and forced to fast with little or no medical attention.

In Ghana, the first point of call for persons who start exhibiting signs of mental illness is the prayer camps. They (families) see it as a spiritual attack and believe with prayers the illness will go away. To prevent the patients from ‘running or harming themselves or others’, they (mentally ill persons) are put in chains or shackles and sometimes left outside at the mercy of bad weather.

Speaking at a one-day workshop held for the media, Tuesday, Dr Akwasi Osei said the authority will ensure that no one will chain or treat persons with mental illness unfairly.

"Mental disorder patients should not be discriminated. They should be treated like any other person...the authority will not spare anyone who maltreats them..." he stated.

He however assured that the authority will not close down those prayer camps but they will be trained to know how to handle mentally ill patients who are brought to them; "the most important aspect is to ensure that they are not maltreated, chained or treated unfairly..."

According to him, "the act recognises the camps; they are not abolishing them but they will be used as informal actors...they will be trained in handling mental health the end of this year, chaining and other acts of maltreatment will not happen in Ghana" he assured.