Did you know an estimated 650,000 of the 21.6 million people living in Ghana, are suffering from a severe mental disorder and a further 2,166,000 are suffering from a moderate to mild mental disorder?
For starters, what does it mean it to suffer from a mental disorder? Definitively, it may include a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking and behaviour.
In Ghanaian and most African homes, when a person is told they have a mental disorder, people wrongly assume they have run mad. Notably, however, even the most normal person is affected by different types of mental disorders.
Clinical depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, dementia, insomnia, eating disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more are some of the common mental health disorders that afflict people.
Many misconceptions and myths have been created about mental disorders over the years.
Contrary to the thinking that mental disorders are not common, research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that they are. One is likely to have a mental disorder without being aware. Experts advise to seek professional diagnosis before attempting to take medication or attend therapy.
It is also not true that people suffering from mental disorders are violent. Only a few people with intense mental disorders display violent behavioural patterns. But majority of people with this condition hardly exhibit violent behaviour.
People suffering from a mental disorder are not crazy. They are vulnerable and do not understand how to manage their moods but with the right guidance they can learn how to manage it.
Mental health disorders do not only affect people in the Western world, it is everywhere. In Ghana and Nigeria , it is quite common. There are stories and articles of young and old committing suicide and displaying odd behaviours as well.
With proper care and medication, mental health can almost be eradicated or controlled. Although some types of mental disorders cannot be cured they are highly manageable, thus allowing a person to live their life to the fullest with close to zero episodes.
One of the commonest beliefs is that persons suffering from a mental disorder cannot just ‘snap out of it.’ Mostly, when a person is diagnosed with clinical depression, they are told to stop being dramatic and this can make it difficult for a person dealing with it to cope.
Majority of persons with mental disorder do not belong in mental hospitals. This is because the effects of the disorder are usually subtle. The only times persons with such disorders go to a mental hospital is when they have been advised by an expert or they check themselves in. Under both circumstances, it does not mean the person has run mad.
Perception of mental health differs from culture to culture. Regardless, we must try to gain some knowledge on mental health, know the facts about it so we can communicate with persons that suffer from it.