MP worried about increasing depression rate

Hon. Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, Member of Parliament (MP) for Binduri in the Upper East Region, has expressed worry about the increasing level of mental health and its related issues among Ghanaians, citing depression as the major cause.

According to him, seven out of 10 people in the country suffer from one form of depression or the other and the situation seems not reducing in the near future.

“In the past, colonial psychiatrics asserted the virtual absence of depression among Africans. However, in recent times, depression has been noted as the commonest mental illness among Ghanaians. It would surprise others to know that 7 of 10 people in the country suffer from one form of depression or the other,” the MP said.

Dr. Kuganab-Lem made this observation when he delivered a statement on the floor of parliament to mark World Mental Health Day yesterday.

“Mr. Speaker, according to the World Health Organization, mental health disorders accounted for 12% of the global disease burden in 2000 and it is estimated to increase to 15% in 2020. Unipolar depression is also predicted to increase from being the fourth to the second most disabling health condition in the world,” he stated.

He attributed some of the recent suicidal cases as a result of mental disorder in the country to depression, adding that it is an issue that many Ghanaians do not take seriously as a health problem.

“Mr. Speaker, recently, there have been an increased number of suicide cases in the country with a large proportion occurring amongst the youth. Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Suicidal tendencies are as a result of mental disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse, including alcoholism,” the Binduri MP pointed out.

Despite continued education and other campaigns by psychiatry experts in the country, most Ghanaians, including young people,  are reportedly experiencing one form of mental disorder or the other.

High level of alcohol intake, smoking and drug-taking are other prevailing parameters which experts say trigger mental disorders and are also on the increase among the youth.

There is also growing evidence that teens are in the grip of a mental-health crisis. It is as if, rather than acting out, young people are turning in on themselves.

With all these prevalence of mental health issues, Dr. Kuganab-Lem, who is a deputy ranking member on the Health Sub-Committee of Parliament, said there is the need for a high level of commitment by government to give a big push to the Mental Health Authority Act 2012, to help reduce the risk.

The MP, in his statement, entreated employers and oganisations to pump in some resources to improve the mental health conditions of employees, stressing that, “medical examination of workers should not be limited to only screening for physical medical condition but should include mental examination.”

He charged parliament as an institution to take interest in mental health screening among staff, especially parliamentarians who go through long stresses in serving their constituents.

Several researches have also revealed there is increasing rate of depression and anxiety among teenagers, especially making the world a dangerous place in the next 25 years few years.

The number of people, both old and young, turning up in mental health centres with psychiatric conditions has more than doubled since 2009 and, in the past three years, hospital admissions for persons with mental disorders have also almost doubled.

But Dr. Kuganab-Lem told The Gazette there is still hope if Ghanaians could take mental assessment seriously as they do to other health conditions often.

He therefore called on parliament to take the lead role in a crusade against the neglected critical health issue, as the mental health problem does not affect an individual but the society in general.




Source: Felix Engsalige Nyaaba


The Republic News Online

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