Forum salute mentale
Wa (Agenzia Fides) - They go to look for the mentally disabled on the street and give them food, clean clothes and proper care. This is the project that Mgr. Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, in Ghana, launched in 2016 in favor of those suffering from psychiatric disorders. A project that is giving its first results and that wants to go further, creating modern care facilities and fighting the social stigma.
According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, that of mental distress is a very sensitive problem in Ghana. According to the World Health Organization, of the 21.6 million Ghanaian citizens, 650 thousand suffer from a serious mental disorder and another 2,166,000 are affected by a moderate or mild mental disorder.
Mental health services are present only in large cities. However, these are large hospitals that have an approach to mental illness that is outdated. In fact, large international organizations advise against the creation of large centers that risk not paying due attention to individual patients and instead advocate the creation of small, widespread centers in the area. Some of these small centers exist in rural Ghanaian communities, but they are private and their services are not for everyone. In addition there is the serious problem of mentally disabled people who are abandoned by their families and are often mistreated, isolated, harassed. Their rights are constantly denied.
To respond to the needs of these vulnerable people, Mgr. Richard Kuuia Baawobr launched a project involving parishes, religious organizations, religious and lay people. In 2016, groups of volunteers started bringing food and clothing to the mentally ill who lived in the streets. Some doctors and nurses then made themselves available and started to provide treatment and medication.
Two years after its launch, the project is well structured, but the Bishop has decided to go further. "We are planning – he told Fides - to build a rehabilitation center where patients living on the street could be accommodated. Here they could be subjected to the necessary treatments and follow a rehabilitation and reintegration process in the communities of origin". The project would like to involve the health service in Ghana which should offer medicines and advice to help patients return to normality.
The Bishop wants to try to combat marginalization as well. "In collaboration with the Mental Unit in Wa – he observes - a radio talk show will be organized to educate the public on mental health and the need for families, communities and society to accept the disease and help the sick during and after the treatment. During therapy, patients will also receive professional training that will make them autonomous, improve their economic status and increase their self-esteem". (EC) (Agenzia Fides, 27/7/2018)