A durbar of chiefs to enhance awareness and improve the human rights of people with mental health conditions has been held at the forecourt of the Yoo Naa Palace at Savelugu in the Northern Region. It was attended by the Paramount Chief of Yoo Traditional Area and his elders, representatives of some public institutions from the Savelugu Municipal Assembly, non-governmental organisations, some persons with mental health conditions, dressmakers, hairdressers, and pupils amongst other stakeholders. The event, held on the theme: ‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right’, was organised by BasicNeeds-Ghana, an NGO, with funding from United for Global Mental Health. It formed part of activities to mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, which is a day set aside to raise awareness about some of the challenges faced by persons with mental health conditions. Mr Inusah Iddrisu, Principal Investigator and Public Education Officer at the Northern Regional Office of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, who spoke on universal human rights, explained the rights of persons with mental health conditions regarding their civic rights, economic and social rights, and their employment rights. People with mental health conditions experience different forms of violations and abuses in communities, where issues of stigma, exclusion, discrimination, sexual abuse, and harassment persist, hence the durbar to raise awareness to increase support and care for them. Mr Iddrisu urged the participants to live in communities free from discrimination, stigma, and exclusion, and respect the rights of persons with mental health conditions. He emphasised that ‘People with mental health conditions also have the right to work. So, their appointments should not be terminated merely because they suffer mental health conditions, or it has been detected that they suffer from mental health conditions, or they have a history of mental health conditions.’ He expressed the need for treatment for mental health conditions to be accessible, and affordable to persons with mental health conditions. He said children with epilepsy and mental health conditions also had the right to education and should be sent to school to acquire education. Mr Mumuni Fuseini, Northern Regional Mental Health Officer, called on traditional healers to stop chaining and beating people with mental health conditions in the name of healing them, saying the practice was against their human rights. Hajia Ayishetu Seidu, Savelugu Municipal Chief Executive, whose speech was read on her behalf by the Municipal Coordinating Director, said the Assembly was pivotal in registering people with mental health conditions onto the National Health Insurance Scheme to enable them to benefit from health care. She said persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups in the area were also benefiting from the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme to cushion them while others were also benefiting from their three per cent share of the District Assemblies Common Fund. She commended BasicNeeds-Ghana for its work in the area and urged it to continue to bring relief to the people. Yoo Naa Yakubu Abdulai Andani, Paramount Chief of Yoo Traditional Area (Savelugu) deplored the way the community treated people with mental health conditions and underscored the need for families to support people with mental health conditions and include their needs in their activities to enhance their well-being. He expressed the need for parents to be more responsible in taking care of their children and not allow them to remain on the streets, especially at night. Mr Dokurugu Adam Yahaya, Head of Programmes, BasicNeeds-Ghana, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for their support for the cause of people with mental health conditions.
Source: Ghana News Agency