The Accra Psychiatric Hospital has stopped making new admissions for some days now, although its Outpatient Department (OPD) is operating.
The Pantang and the Ankaful hospitals are in the same situation but are running full services.
The Chief Executive of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, told the Daily Graphic in Accra on Thursday that meetings had been held with the Ministry of Health in a bid to resolve the crisis.
He explained that it was likely a positive response would be heard soon.
On the implications of the situation, he said it could be dangerous for the patients, the staff and society, since aggressive patients could be a threat to themselves and society.
“A hungry man is an angry man, and in the case of an angry patient, the result could be more intense,” he said.
“The patient can even take to the street directing traffic or attacking people, or even commit suicide,” he explained.
Dr Osei said the recurrence of financial crises at the psychiatric hospitals over the years had the tendency of rolling back the gains made in the treatment of patients, leading to relapses.
In addition, he said, it discouraged people from seeking help from the hospitals, in spite of the educational campaigns made, resulting in visits to places such as prayer camps where the patients are often not well treated.
He said even though some patients visited private facilities where they paid more, many others could not afford such services.
The chief executive was optimistic that with the establishment of the Mental Health Fund, which was a requirement by law, there would be resources to take better care of mental patients.
He explained that legislative instruments to be presented to Parliament to set out modalities for the fund were being worked on.
On other challenges facing the authority, Dr Osei said the offices of the authority were currently in rented premises, by the kind courtesy of the British Department For International Development (DFID), and that in March next year when the rent would be due, the authority would face the challenge of where to go.
He explained that even though there was land opposite the Accra Psychiatric Hospital on which an office could be built, there was no money for that purpose.
Dr Osei called on society to continue with the same advocacy that culminated in the establishment of the authority to ensure that what was required under the law was provided to result in better care for the mentally ill.
Source: Graphic online