The Mental Health Society of Ghana (MEHSOG) is advocating the inclusion and participation of persons with psychosocial disability in the electoral process.
Psychosocial disability is an internationally recognised term under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities used to describe the experience of people with impairment and participation restrictions related to mental health conditions.
Speaking at a durbar at Nima in Accra on mental health and electoral process, the Executive Secretary of MEHSOG, Mr Humphrey Kofie, said the Supreme Court needed to give a true and proper interpretation of the ‘sound mind’ stated by the Constitution.
He argued that a normal person might sometimes not be of sound mind, depending on the state in which that person was and, therefore, asked: “Who does the Constitution describe or define as of unsound mind?”
Mr Kofie cited some international and domestic laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Mental Health Law, which entreat the state to guarantee that persons with disabilities participate in political and public life.
In spite of that, he said, many people, including electoral officers, discriminate against persons with psychosocial disability.
Voting is a right
The Chairman of the Council of Tribal Chiefs within the Ayawaso Constituency, Chief Baba Issah, urged the community to accept and have compassion on persons with mental illness.
He encouraged registered voters to exercise their right and called for tolerance and peace during and after the general election to ensure national stability.
A Principal Civic Education Officer at the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Sulemana Bayeni, who educated the participants on their rights, said the 1992 Constitution guarantees the dignity of all persons.
The durbar, organised by MEHSOG, formed part of a project titled: “Inclusion matters: Access to and participation of persons with disabilities in Election 2016.”
Funded by the British Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by STAR-Ghana, the project is intended to promote access to voting and ensure the effective participation of persons living with disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process and increase awareness of the process.