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People living with AIDS have mental challenges- NGO

posted Oct 10, 2010, 9:00 AM by Ghana Medical Volunteers
Accra, Oct. 10, GNA - MindFreedom Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) at the weekend observed that many people who suffer from medical conditions such as AIDS, cardiovascular diseases, severe trauma, diabetes and cancer have mental health conditions to grapple with.

"For instance depression is present in one of five out-patients with congestive heart failure. Yet the majority of such cases are not recognised or appropriately treated." The observation was made in a statement issued by Mr Dan Taylor, Executive Secretary of the NGO to mark World Mental Day on the theme: "Mental health and Chronic physical illnesses: the need for continued and integrated care".

The day is marked on the 10th of October every year. The statement said, estimates indicate that one in four persons with diabetes suffer from depressive symptoms, while the odds of developing depression and the rate of depression are doubled for people with the disease.

"Approximately half of all patients with terminal or advanced cancer suffer poor mental health. "Specifically, depression, anxiety and adjustment disorders plaque people with advanced or terminal cancer," the statement said.

The statement said death rates are as much as 25 per cent in cancer patients who felt depressed and 39 per cent higher in cancer patients who received a diagnosis depression. Depression is a disabling illness that affects about 15 per cent to 25 per cent of cancer patients.

"The burden of mental disorders is immense. They create a substantial personal burden for affected persons and their families, and magnificent economic and social hardships that affect the society entirely as well as a country's productivity. The statement said it is unfortunate that issues of mental health in Ghana for a very long time have been consigned to the fringes. "Indeed this has clearly manifested themselves in the neglect, under resourcing and lack of facilities in all the psychiatric hospitals and units in Ghana.

It quoted a World Health Organisation (WHO) report in 2001, which projected that within the lifetime of a society, 25 per cent out of every 100 people are bound to suffer from one form of mental illness or another.

The statement said: " 10 out of 100 people stand to be victims of mental illness at anytime and one out of 10 is bound to suffer from severe mental disorders.

"Ghana with a 22,000,000 population would have 220,000 persons with mental illnesses on its hand, not excluding the 2,200 affected by severe mental illness to grapple with.

"Worse still, the WHO projections seem to suggest that by 2010 mental illness will become the second largest non-communicable disease in the world with as many as 154 million people globally suffering from depression and 121 million others from anxiety cum stress related problems."

It expressed regret about the delay in the passing of the Mental Health Bill put together in 2006.

"All manner of reasons, excuses and explanations have been given for the delay in submitting this draft law to Parliament for enactment. The NGO called on human rights institutions, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to join hands to push government to get the draft law enacted, adding: "The time to act is now." 10 Oct. 10