Mr Speaker, I would like to add that mental health care in this country has been a problem. Even among children, especially when you look at the incidents of autism, which is a condition that is rated to be the fastest growing disability in children.
In many cases of autism, which is more or less a mental health situation, children are maltreated and kept at home. Parents fail to take them to school and even when they go to school, they are labelled as troublesome children and sometimes are not given the necessary care.
Mr Speaker, if you go to our public schools, it seems that there are no facilities for children who are suffering from autism. So this is just one case of mental health situation that affects this country.
As the Statement rightly pointed out, it is all because of superstition. Whenever people have a certain mental challenge, we always want to label that as being caused by the devil or witches. As a result, these people are usually referred to prayer camps instead of seeking medical care.
Mr Speaker, this is not surprising because even when they are taken to these hospitals, because of cost and inadequate personnel in terms of doctors and nurses
who support mental health in most of our hospitals, we are unable to give them adequate treatment and at the end of the day they have no option than to resort to spiritual care.
Mr Speaker, let me use this occasion to commend one lady, Baaba of the Ghana's Most Beautiful fame, who has taken mental health care as her project and indeed has launched a foundation to mobilise resources to educate the public to appreciate the extent of the mental health situation in this country and also to support the effort by the public health delivery system.
So, commending her, I would like to urge Hon Members to also commit some of our funds to help educate the public, especially those in our schools on the need to appreciate that mental health is a challenge in this country and that it is important that we seek care and also to more or less provide some support.
Mr Speaker, I support parents with children who suffer from autism and I would urge my Hon Colleagues to go to the extent of looking for parents who might have children who suffer from such disabilities so that we could extend some form of assistance to them.
Indeed, these conditions are very expensive to cure. For instance, the average child who receives therapy in any centre that treats autism pays not less than GH¢3,000.00 and if we look at the levels of salaries that people take in this country, we may appreciate that most Ghanaians would not be able to afford such therapy. That is why these children are mostly left uncared for.
So Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you very much for giving me this opportunity.
South): I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting me this opportunity to comment on such a very important Statement. Obviously, I must express my gratitude to the Hon Member who made the Statement for drawing our collective attention to a very important matter that we all seemed to take for granted.
Mr Speaker, the causes of mental health illnesses are many and varied, but we could all agree, as the experts have pointed out, that matters to do with depression comes in various forms. These include shocks and broken heartedness, alcoholism, drug abuse and, of course, extreme poverty which could all cause one to cross the line, so to speak.
Mr Speaker, as one of my Hon Colleagues just whispered to me, given the level of stress that we have to experience while executing our mandate on behalf of our people, there is no reason to believe that some of us could not be on the brink of mental breakdowns.
Quite clearly, the statistics show that about three million people of the Ghanaian population have one mental health condition or the other. As Members of Parliament (MPs), I believe one of the ways that we could help address this issue and to make sure that anyone who is a victim in one form or another in terms of mental stability gets help, and we need to move swiftly in working towards the coming into being of a Legislative Instrument (L.I.) to back the 2012 Mental Health Act.
Mr Speaker, I could not conclude my brief comments without drawing attention to the fact that even, in spite of the challenges that were enumerated in the Statement for calling attention to the lack of personnel and the disproportionate concentration of the few mental health care facilities in the southern part of this
country, we still need to do more to ensure that while we look at options and opportunities to perhaps establish mental health facilities in the northern part of this country, we should look at placing specialised persons in the hospitals in Tamale, Wa and Bolgatanga to help address the issue as we look at permanent solutions.
On this note, Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you for the opportunity and I call on all of us to do our best to de- stigmatise mental health because any of us, at any moment, could be classified as mentally unstable.