The Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Professor Angela Ofori-Atta, has urged journalists to be tactful in their reportage about persons living with mental illnesses.
Speaking at a Media training and orientation on Mental Health organised by the Psychiatry Department of KBTH as part of its celebration of the global Mental Health Week, she noted that mass media, due to its reach and exposure has the unique ability to alter perception and sway public opinion.
“In the absence of actual experience with people with mental illnesses, individuals rely on the media for their perceptions of them.”
She thus advised the media to humanise mental illness in their reportage and offer hope and support to persons with mental illness.
Prof. Ofori-Atta said studies have shown that “everyone has some risk of developing a mental health disorder no matter the age, sex, income or ethnicity, and it was estimated that globally, one out of four persons would have a form of mental health challenge in their lifetime.”
She however bemoaned the little or no support given to mental health care in the country.
“Despite the data showing the growing prevalence of mental health problems globally and the fact that most people with the challenge could get better when given the needed care, there had been unequal proportions in terms of focus and support.”
Prof Ofori-Atta indicated that the Department of Psychiatry, being the smallest in KBTH, offered critical services to its wide range of clients from the Plastics and Burns Centre to all the other departments of the Hospital in terms of clinical, psychotherapy, occupational therapy, and counselling for a sustained healing process.
“We have at least 21 Clinical Psychologists in the KBTH, three Specialists Psychiatrist, several residents in training, and about 67 Psychiatric nurses in our wards, to provide services for patients within the regular hospital settings. The current improvement in care showed that people with mental health challenges could receive quality care within the regular hospital settings like all other diseases and be cured completely.”
She, however, complained of the limited space in its wards to accommodate more patients and called for support for its expansion.