Influencing key policy decision makers to develop policies and legislations that address the needs and rights of people with mental illness and their primary careers.
The Mental Health Society of Ghana, played host to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr Juan E. Méndez, from November 7-14, 2013. The Special Rapporteur, who was in the country at the invitation of the Government of Ghana, was to assess and identify challenges regarding human torture and other cruel treatment meted out to citizens. He visited the psychiatric hospitals and prayer camps to examine the treatment and living conditions of those with mental disabilities. His engagement with MEHSOG was aimed understanding the nature and scope of human torture meted out to people with psychosocial disabilities in Ghana and what MEHSOG wanted government to do about it. They acknowledged that people with psychosocial disabilities suffer varying degree of cruelty and torture, mostly at the informal (traditional and faith-based) treatment centres, which included the application of fire/heat and the infliction of knife cuts on the bodies of patients, in the bid to exorcising them of evil spirits. The Executive Secretary of MEHSOG acknowledged that, even though the Mental Heal Law had been passed, these cruel treatments were still ongoing and with some degree of impunity and urged the UN Special Rapporteur to insist on
government to ensure the full implementation of the Mental Health Law, Act 846. In an interview with journalist after his brief visit, the UN Special Rapporteur stated “I am deeply concerned about the situation of overcrowding in prisons; the quality of mental healthcare in Ghana, both at hospitals and in spiritual healing centres known as ‘prayer camps’. The psychiatric hospital in the capital Accra does not have enough drugs to treat patients and is improperly using the controversial electroconvulsive therapy. Prayer camps located in rural areas of Ghana, shackled patients to trees or inside rooms.”
MEHSOG has been advocating the inclusion of people with mental disorders in a Social Intervention programmes run by the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, and has successfully ensured that people with mental disorders and epilepsy have been mentioned in the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Leap Programme. The programme seeks to empower extremely poor, vulnerable and excluded population in the country and involves cash transfer to the extremely poor household without productive capacity.