Title : Transforming mental health services in Ghana: Blending traditional healing with contemporary medicine
The West African country of Ghana is situated just north of the equator bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Ghana’s tropical beaches and picturesque countryside are starkly contrasted by the destitute and inhumane living environments of people living with mental health conditions who often find themselves subjected to archaic treatment regimes as articulated in the report “Like a Death Sentence”, Human Rights Watch (2012).
The MHFGH was formed as a direct result of this report and comprises mental health professionals and academics mainly based in the diaspora. It is a registered charity and contributes to government, community and private efforts to promote mental health and wellbeing, and reduce stigmatisation of mental illness in Ghana.
Francis Nii Lanteye Acquah is a mental health nurse working in Australia, but originally from Ghana, he lead the MHFGH as its current president. As a Ghanaian-Australian, he brings knowledge of local culture and health beliefs and can partner them with my contemporary western health qualifications and expertise, thus bridging the void between cultures. This mix is mirrored by many of the members of the MHFGH and builds strength and confidence in the work we are initiating in Ghana.
Their work has led to numerous achievements. They host an international conference each year in Ghana, which coincides with the annual World Mental Health Day. In addition, they involve local mental health clinicians in research projects and education programs in partnership with Ghanaian and overseas educational institutions. They are already seeing the beginnings of mental health transformation.
The aim of this paper is threefold: To explore some of the personal stories of those living with mental health conditions in Ghana; to raise awareness of shared concerns about health and wellbeing that cross transcultural borders; and to discuss important aspects of the Foundation’s work to date.