Mental Illnesses respects no one – Wendy Norman | A Mental Health nurse at the Koforidua Regional Hospital, Wendy Norman, has advised the Youth to take extra care of themselves and report to the mental health unit of the hospital for occasional check-ups whenever they see some symptoms of mental illnesses occurring within them.
Ms. Wendy Norman was speaking to the Youth Ministry of the Full Gospel Assembly International. According to her, “mental illness is no respecter of persons.”
“Unfortunately, because of stigma, people don’t even want to be seen entering the mental health ward.” She added.
Giving staggering statistics of people who suffer mental illness, from the World Health Organization, it became obvious to the audience that, many people suffer mental illnesses because when the symptoms begin, nobody takes it seriously. “And when you even see the signs and prompt people that they should seek attention, they say there is nothing wrong with them”
The statistics accordingly says ”
It is estimated that of the 21.6 million people living in Ghana, 650,000 are suffering from a severe mental disorder and a further 2,166, 000 are suffering from a moderate to mild mental disorder. The treatment gap is 98% of the total population expected to have a mental disorder.
Mental health services in Ghana are available at most levels of care. However, the majority of care is provided through specialized psychiatric hospitals (close to the capital and servicing only a small proportion of the population), with relatively less government provision and funding for general hospital and primary health care based services. The few community-based services being provided are private.”
She added that, even though these statistics are over two years old, it gives an idea of the situation of mental health in the country.
Wendy Norman was speaking to the Youth Ministry of the Full Gospel Assembly International on Mental Health.
Advising the youth, she enumerated a number of signs and symptoms which one should look out for, that, when not reported early could lead to serious mental illness.
She advised the youth to desist from alcoholism, adding that, “when you check the food we eat, the body gets the required amount of alcohol it needs from the food we eat, therefore anything extra that you put into the body acts as a psychoactive substance that enters the brain and negatively affect it”
This according to her, “turns to then affect the brain, and can lead to something serious”
A Psychoactive substance is a substance that acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behavior.
Mental Illnesses respects no one | SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
On suicidal thoughts, Wendy educated the youth to be on the lookout for signs that one was considering suicide.
Quoting from the Bible, the encouraged the youth, that “you have to be your brothers’ keeper”
When you see a brother or sister isolating themselves, it is even that time that you should get closer and find out what is worrying them.
Such are mental health issues, and they could be having a problem that nobody knows, it is only when you get closer to such people that you will know what is happening to them, you can then recommend that they see an expert.
Whenever you come to the mental health unit and don’t even find the psychologist, there will be other experts to help such a person.
She spent time telling the youth to also pay attention to statements that suggest that one was fed up with life and could take their own life.
She gave examples as “I don’t even know what I am doing in this world anymore, I am tired of life, I don’t know what I want in this world again”
Such statements according to her suggests that such people were ready to die, and needed attention.
People who make such statements ought to be brought to the mental health unit for the necessary professional care.
Sometimes, it takes psychotherapy to get them out of their situation, and not necessarily administering drugs.
Furthermore, on suicides, she said, it is a crime within the law to try to take one’s own life “however in my years of practice, I haven’t yet seen anyone who has attempted taking their own life and has been jailed as a result”
She added that “the experts are working hard at decriminalizing it, because such people need help and not to be tried”
Mental Illnesses respects no one | SLEEP
On sleep, Wendy said, it was important that each adult has between 6 to 8 hours of sleep within every 24 hours.
According to her, too much sleep or not being able to sleep for weeks, months and sometimes years was a sign of a mental health issue.
She advised the youth present to have enough rest, take in enough water and have time for regular exercise, at least 30minutes of exercise, three times in a week was according to her “enough to keep you healthy”
The mental health unit of the Koforidua Regional Hospital has in recent times, taken the talk on mental health education to wherever people gathered, and it was the turn of the Full Gospel Assembly International to host personnel from the unit to educate them.
In recent times, concerns have been raised on the awareness of mental health issues and also how at the governmental level, stakeholders were taking the issue seriously.
On the cost of care, she explained that, though mental health care is supposed to be free, there were times when the unit runs out of prescribed drugs that are used and as such, patients had to bear the cost of acquiring such drugs.
She, however, admonished them to make it a point to regularly visit the unit whenever they discovered any of the symptoms mentioned during the program.
Self-medication was to be avoided, she stressed that “medicines were made out of various chemicals and it was important that an expert would prescribe medication before one takes it, therefore, no one should just go and buy drugs to take.”
Further stating that “that is why you need an expert to examine you and then prescribe what will help you”
Mental Illnesses respects no one | SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Lastly, she told the youth that, apart from alcohol, which is what most youth abuse most, all other drugs that are taken without prescription were being abused.
She gave examples of how marijuana, amphetamine and other drugs were being abused by some youth and urged them to desist from such as “it is very difficult to stop once started”