Making a statement on the mental health situation in the country on the floor of Parliament last Tuesday, Dr Apaak said the three regions had a high number of mental and epileptic patients, with many of them roaming the streets of cities and towns.
He said while some of the mental patients were put in confined rooms by relatives with little or no attention at all, some were put under the care of traditional herbalists, who sometimes subjected them to all forms of abuse, including impregnating the female ones.
“This situation paints a sad picture of mental health delivery in the northern sector and early tackling of the situation to ensure a balance in terms of mental health facilities cannot be overemphasised,” he stated.
Dr Apaak said the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846) which, among others, sought to provide access to primary care for mental health and mental health facilities in the deprived parts of the country, had not met its objectives five years after its passage.
He, therefore, called on the government, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and all stakeholders to help support mental health “by ensuring that more and modern mental health facilities are built in the northern sector to ensure that patients have easy access to mental health care.”
Dr Apaak said there was only one psychiatrist stationed at the Tamale Teaching Hospital in the Northern Regional capital, taking care of patients in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions.
He said only 34 out of 600 psychiatric nurses countrywide served the three regions of the north which had an estimated population of 4,177,798, according to BasicNeeds-Ghana, a non-governmental organisation.
On the whole, Dr Apaak lamented that all the mental health facilities in the country had been run down and that everybody was at risk of getting mentally ill.
He urged the government to resource the Mental Health Authority to carry out its mandate of improving mental health care in the country.