Johnson & Johnson supports mental healthcare training and public education in Ghana

(Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Johnson & Johnson launches ‘Mind-4-life’ & Mental Health Training project and offers full scholarship to nurses in Ghana.

Mental health education and demand for service have over the years been relegated to the background due to the stigma it comes with. Against this background, the world’s largest and most broadly-based healthcare company, Johnson and Johnson, has committed to providing support for the good and total well-being of everyone.

Focusing on mental health with its latest project, the company has launched its mental health project, choosing Ghana as its preferred home in Africa. The project would provide specialist training and capacity building for nurses in community mental health. This would enhance access to specialist mental health services at the primary care and community level. The Mind-4-Life program which requires everyone to “seek help and offer help” is aimed at educating the public to seek assistance when stressed, and be conscious of their mental well-being.

Giving the keynote address, consultant psychiatrist at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Sammy Ohene, indicated that despite passing one of the best laws to support mental health in 2012, the content is yet to actualize. What is more worrying according to Dr. Ohene is that Ghana with a population of over 30 million had only 40 psychiatrists, and about 2,000 psychiatric nurses or occupational therapists in the system as of 2012, leaving virtually over 85 percent of the country’s population to their fate without care of service.

According to him, superstition associated with mental health makes it almost impossible for people to access help when they need it most. He noted that the partnership with Johnson and Johnson Foundation, Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives, the Mental Health Authority, and the Psychiatrist Association of Ghana is a great collaborative initiative towards finding solutions to some of the issues with mental healthcare.

The project is aimed to support the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives with scholarships to train nurses in community mental healthcare and also support public education campaigns with the hope of providing support for people with mental health disorders.

Dr. Sammy Ohene indicates that a lack of funding to be one key challenge that has crippled efforts over the years. He laments that despite the establishment of mental health funds, commitment from the state has been lukewarm.

He says “Because the law stipulates free treatment for people with mental health conditions, they do not use the NHIS card hence they receive little or no attention at the various hospitals”.

He noted with concern that the lack of education, human resource, and infrastructure remains a challenge. “Public education is something that needs to be apt if we are going to get anywhere” he stated.

Out of the 66 nurses currently under the scholarship from Johnson and Johnson Foundation, a beneficiary Emmanuella Awade shared her experience. She stated that the high cost of training of nurses makes it almost impossible for her friends who want to practice mental health to access the relevant education. Most of them give up along the way due to financial constraints. According to Johnson and Johnson, the plan is to spend in excess of $230,000 to train more mental health nurses and support refurbishing of facilities in the school.

On her part as the guest speaker at the launch event, the Deputy Minister for Health, Tina Mensah appreciated Johnson and Johnson for their efforts in the area of mental health.

The Country Manager, Johnson & Johnson Ghana, Priscilla Owusu Sekyere, reiterated Johnson & Johnson’s commitment in seeing to significantly impact society through the “Mind for Life” programs to create a relatively safe environment for people to comfortably and openly discuss mental hygiene needs.

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