SMS Holds Workshop on Mental Illness

A Workshop on the theme “The Clergy and Biopsychosocial –Spiritual Treatments of Mental Illness” organised by the Department of Psychological Medicine and Mental Health has been held to bridge the gap between Faith-based organisations and Mental Health practitioners. The issue of mental health has come to the fore for discussions in the country since the rate of suicide has gained prominence in the media. People with stress and anxiety who mostly do not know where to go for the right solutions rather resort to prayer camps and other unorthodox means for treatment albeit without success. This is because of the lack of appreciation of mental illness. Even those who do understand, attribute it to spirituality. It was for this reason that a Senior Lecturer and Head, Department of the Psychological Medicine and Mental Health, Dr. Michael T. Anim explained that the workshop was organised to bring persons who handle such matters together to seek a common understanding of the situation. “We want all caregivers, service users that is patients, families and society to understand so that treatment will be easy and that people can have access to it”. “Faith-based communities must understand that mental illness is easy to treat”. The workshop, which brought together Faith-based workers from Elmina and Mankessim, was also to foster collaboration among them on any mental illness. That, Dr. Anim said would create the opportunity for Psychiatric personnel to refer cases to the clergy and vice versa. “Through this we can all have easy access to the patient for his or her common good”. Dr. Anim declared “Mental illness is not necessarily craziness, it starts gradually and builds up into major mental disturbances”. He therefore called on society to disabuse their minds of all perceptions about mental health and rather seek early help to avoid deterioration. In a presentation, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Director of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Eugene K. Dordoye, stated that when people were not able to overcome their stresses they get mental illnesses. “Most of the things in mental health are due to the thought process or thinking”. His topic was “Biological Factors in Mental Health, Disease and Treatment”. Dr. Dordoye indicated that “concepts are symbiotic representation of the mind and they are built up from childhood as language is learnt”. He stated that mental illness was not a spiritual problem. He however, said that “a spiritual solution to a mental illness does not imply a spiritual cause adding that adiction on the otherhand is a disease that has a spiritual solution that has been shown scientifically to cause changes in the brain”. Another presenter, Mr. Christian Ackom of Department, indicated that research has shown that mental illness was caused by a combination of factors, which include psychological factors. Mr. Ackom noted that individuals were influenced by their thoughts, emotions and behaviour. “Things we experience from our environment (family, friends, colleagues, teachers and pastors) and the interpretations we give to them together with the emotions we have towards them influence the way we behave”, he noted. These dynamics, according to Mr. Ackom combine to either make us health or unhealthy. Ms. Victoria Acquaye told the audience that social factors form part of the multiple factors that maintain mental health. “Social factors can also contribute to the development of mental illness of the individual”. Ms. Acquaye who is a lecturer at the Department of Mental Health, however said the same social factors could also be used to treat persons with mental illness to become well again. The workshop was graced by the Provost, College of Health and Allied Sciences, Rev. Prof. Harold Amonoo-Kuofi and the Dean, School of Medical Sciences, Prof. Francis W. Ofei.