Owners of Prayer Camps who put mentally ill persons in chains risk imprisonment.

Photo credit: Panos Network

The Mental Health Authority has banned chaining of mentally ill patients at the various prayer and traditional healing camps across the country, effective October 10, 2017.

Speaking on the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, ‘Mental Health at the Workplace’ in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei, said human rights abuse of the mentally ill people should stop.

He stated that the Mental Health Act 846 of 2012 clearly spells out that ‘if by your act or omission or commission you neglect or abuse the rights of the mentally ill patient or do anything that offends his or her sensibility’, the law will deal with you.

He added that culprits will be prosecuted and if found guilty, will be fined not less than 6,000 Cedis or put in prison for two years or both.

Dr. Akwasi Osei also said putting mentally ill patients in chains at the camps should stop, adding that effective October 10, 2017, that is banned.

He reiterated that if anybody puts a person with mental health problem in chains, the healer and the parents or caretakers of the patient will also be prosecuted, and if found guilty, will face the aforementioned punishment.

He advised any healer who has chained a patient to take steps to release him or her, adding that the Authority will not close down their camps. He warned that if mentally ill people are brought to their camps for spiritual fortification, they have no business to put them in chains or shackles or locks or in cages, stressing that that should cease, forthwith.

Dr. Akwasi Osei also indicated that the Authority is collaborating with its partners to ensure that mentally ill people are not chained, adding that mental health problem is a collective issue, hence all must get involved in protecting the rights of the patients.

He was worried about the fact that health facilities had inadequate medication for their patients, hence appealed to government to assist them in that direction.

Touching on the theme for the Mental Health Week Celebration, ‘Mental Health at the Workplace’, Dr. Akwasi Osei said one out of every five people has a mental problem, adding that 41% of Ghanaians have psychological distress.

He noted that in the absence of mental health at the workplace, productivity will suffer. He recalled that there have been some instances, where people have committed suicide at the workplace as a result of non-recognition of mental health problem at the workplace.

He entreated employers to seek the mental health of their employees, stating that mental health means total wealth. He added that we can’t create wealth and build the country’s economy without good mental health.


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