It is estimated that of the 21.6 million people living in Ghana, 650,000 are suffering from a severe mental disorder and a further 2,166, 000 are suffering from a moderate to mild mental disorder. The treatment gap is 98% of the total population expected to have a mental disorder.
Mental health services in Ghana are available at most levels of care. However, the majority of care is provided through specialized psychiatric hospitals (close to the capital and servicing only small proportion of the population), with relatively less government provision and funding for general hospital and primary health care based services. Furthermore, the proportion of health spending allocated to mental health is a substantially smaller percentage of the total that what might be seen or expected in developed countries.
Efforts are being made to change the model of service provision to one which emphasizes care in the community. However, Ghana's 1972 mental health decree strongly emphasized institutional care to the detriment of providing mental health care in primary health care settings, contradictory to both national and international policy directives. Furthermore, procedures for involuntary admission in the 1972 law did not sufficiently protect people against unnecessary admission.
In parallel with efforts to move towards a community based care model, legislation currently before parliament (the Mental Health Bill) seeks to shift legally the emphasis of care away from institutions and towards a “least restrictive” treatment doctrine. The Mental Health Bill also seeks to extend legislative protect of human rights to people with mental illness.