Mental health professionals, religious leaders must collaborate

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Mental health professionals, religious leaders must collaborate.  Dr Ebenezer Tetteh Kpalam, a Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer at the Pentecost University, has urged mental health professionals to seek opportunities to collaborate with religious healers to ensure quality care for all.

Dr Kpalam in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) as part of the mental health month, said that the time when mental health practitioners were always suspicious of churches and traditional healers had passed.

He explained that more than 70 per cent of people in Ghana would first consult their religious and traditional leaders and healers when having some issues rather than visiting the hospital, especially when it involved mental health issues.

He further stated that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ghana has over 90 per cent mental health treatment gap; therefore, collaborating with such alternative health providers could help reach out to their clients, provide them with the needed treatment, and break the myths around mental health.

Dr Kpalam indicated that through such collaborations, the health practitioners could build the capacity of the religious healers to identify and refer mental health-related issues to the hospital for prompt interventions.

He noted that in the past, there were many churches with facilities providing spiritual services to mental health patients with related human rights abuse, but through such collaborations, the Mental Health Authority had made significant achievements in reducing such cases.

He indicated that there was a need to intensify such collaborations to ensure that people did not attribute mental issues to spirituality but would rather recognise that it was an illness that needed medical attention.

The clinical psychologist further urged the public to prioritise and take control of their mental health to ensure total well-being.

Source: GNA

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