In recent times, the number of innocent and vulnerable people killed and raped by mentally-challenged persons in Ghana, has been on the ascendency.
This is aside from the environmental threat they pose to society as a result of their activities. There have also been several cases of male mentally-challenged persons impregnating their female counterparts, thus adding to the number of street children.
A few weeks ago, news broke out that, a mentally-challenged man, Kofi Sammy murdered a pregnant woman, Alimatu Karim, and cooked her body with the view to eating it. The said Kofi Sammy was later lynched by a mob for his action.
This happened at Muramura in the Eastern Region. There was another instance where a school girl sent by her grand mum to buy some tomatoes at the local market met her untimely death at the hands of a mentally-challenged person.
But, how has the media responded to such sad incidents, and of course, mental health issues in general compared with other political and sports issues? Your guess is as good as mine. Drug abuse, especially the use of tramadol, weed, alcohol, etc had been the order of the day.
Aged women who get mental problems due to menopause are thrown on the streets by their own children. The destinies of these unfortunate human beings are left in their own hands.
The few who get the chance at the psychiatric hospitals cannot be said to be receiving the best of medical treatment due to inadequate financial and material resources.
According to Dr Akwasi Osei, the Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Ghana has over 4 million mental health patients and if measures were not put in place to check the alarming rate, the country would continue to face the security, investment and environmental threats posed by the activities of mental health patients.
It is in this regard that, the Mensah Mental Health Rehabilitation Project (MEMHREP) has stepped in to support.
The NGO, which is led by Mr. Adu Gyamfi, is headquartered in the UK. However, it is being operationalised in Ghana and has made a very strong impact on mental health issues within the last eight years.
For instance, on the social front, MEMHREP has saved the life of a four-month-old baby dumped in a pit by its mentally-ill mother; won an award for the best institution in maize production in the Atwima Kwanwoma District; and has been feeding, bathing, and clothing most mentally-ill patients on the streets using the Charity Organisation’s own meagre resources.
Such activities happen during Christmas, Easter festivities, public holidays and Mental Health Days. The recent one was a donation of food items to a number of mental patients (Nyame Adehye3) on the Easter Sunday at Konongo, Ejisu and their surrounding towns.
On the education front, MEMHREP has been educating the general public through gatherings like churches, schools, workshops, etc to help curb the mental health menace in Ghana from the root cause.
Again, through MEMHREP’s Community Mental Health Support (CMHS), some people with mental illness living on the streets, homes and in various isolated areas in Ghana are being given intensive care support across the Regions in Ghana.
The 82 Volunteers of the NGO, apart from providing occasional needs to the clients – foodstuffs, and clothings, among others, also visit homes, take the patients to the nearest psychiatry unit, and pay for the cost of their treatment and food.
Whilst at home, the patients are monitored by MEMHREP Nurses to take their drugs on time and those who need rehabs are attended to.
Today, some of the young patients referred to the psychiatry have regained their consciousness and are in apprenticeship in trades such as carpentry and fashion designing.
The major challenge of MEMHREP, is in the area of residential accommodation for the clients as well as logistics and finance. To this end, a 2-acre piece of land at Asokore in the Sekyere East District, Ashanti has been acquired to build a modern REHABILITATION CENTRE for these distressed people.
When completed, it will provide shelter, medical care, and employable skills to the clients in order to reintegrate them into the communities.
It is the belief of MEMHREP that, mentally ill persons deserve to live a healthy and safe life. But, this could be achieved through our collective efforts. Your support, in terms of the provision of logistics, finance, etc would be invested in our clients to achieve the desired results. No amount is too small and every little count.