Escalating mental health issues among Ghanaian adolescents and mothers raise alarm

Escalating mental health issues among Ghanaian adolescents and mothers raise alarm

The Authority has expressed concern over the escalating mental health cases among adolescents in schools with detrimental effects on their academic performance, social interactions and overall quality of life.

Another area of concern is the increasing perinatal mental health, which refers to the psychological wellbeing of women during pregnancy, childbirth and up to a year after childbirth.

Professor Pinamang Appau, the Chief Executive of the Authority, said research indicated that nearly 10 per cent of teenagers in Ghana qualified for a psychiatric diagnosis with detrimental effects on their academic performance, social interactions and quality of life.

Speaking at a public forum on mental health in , she said the youth faced increasing rate of , anxiety, substance abuse, behavioral addictions such as gambling and attempted suicides, and that was worrying.

It had become increasingly evident that the mental health of mothers during pregnancy, birth and a year after birth played a pivotal role in shaping the health outcomes of their infants, particularly in terms of nutrition and overall growth.

Prof Appau said research over the past two decades had consistently highlighted the high prevalence of perinatal depression in Ghana, reaching as high as 50.1 per cent with suicidal ideations among affected mothers at 13-17 per cent.

“This is sad. Our lives are full of ups and downs and experiencing difficulties in emotions, either sad, anxious and seeking help is a sign of strength not weakness,” she said

The forum, on the theme: “It's Ok!” was organised by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology () and the (KATH).

She said it was important that everyone worked hard to de-stigmatise mental health issues and encourage those in need to seek help without shame, adding that the state of mental health in Ghana was an urgent concern that required collective responsibility and action.

The Mental Health Authority had put systems in place to generate home-grown data and improve local research to effectively address mental health issues.

She used the occasion to rally for better conditions of service for mental health professionals to enable them to deliver quality services to their clients.

Dr Mrs Ruth Owusu-Antwi, the Head of Psychiatry, KATH, said mental health issues were pervasive, affecting people of all backgrounds and walks of life, and was, therefore, important for people to seek early help.

Dr Mrs Ruth Owusu-Antwi, the Head of Psychiatry at KATH, said mental health issues were pervasive, affecting people of all backgrounds and walks of life, and was, therefore, important for people to seek early help.

She noted that stress was the number one risk factor for mental breakdown.
Research conducted to see the stress levels of Ghanaians showed that more than 40 per cent of Ghanaians were moderately to severely stressed up.

“We must, therefore, normalize seeking help early when one detects signs of mental breakdown so that it does not progress to be severe,” she advised.

Prof Mrs Rita Akosua Dickson, the KNUST Vice-Chancellor, observed that help for mental health issues were readily available and called on Ghanaians to have bold conversations on the issue and avoid suffering in silence.

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