Ho — A network of pharmacists dedicated to promoting the mental well-being of Ghanaians was launched in Accra yesterday.
The "Pharmacists in Mental Health Ghana" (PMHGh), would serve as a psychiatric special interest group platform dedicated to advancing mental health through safe and evidence-based therapies.
It is expected to promote community-based mental healthcare delivery in line with Ghana's Mental Health Act, 2012.
Speaking at the launch, the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Professor Pinaman Appau, said her outfit has the goal of driving mental healthcare within the country's universal health coverage (UHC) targets.
A key challenge to this goal however, she said, was access to consistent and sustainable supply of psychotropics for mental health patients.
"For the past two months, my team and I have been within the communities encouraging our pharmacists to be more interested in our psychotropic drugs and I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised to hear that there has already been a directive for all pharmacists to keep psychotropic in the pharmacies," she said.
Prof. Appau said the establishment of the network was timely to partner with the MHA to improve service delivery and community integration of mental wellness.
"Mental healthcare must be accessible, comprehensive, dignified and promote integrated care that addresses not only the clinical needs of the populace but their holistic well-being," she stated.
The Deputy Director for Mental Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Amma Boadu, noted that public-private partnerships held immense promise in addressing the gaps in mental health services.
"The GHS brings the experience and infrastructure of the public sector, while the PMHGh adds the expertise and agility of the private sector and together, we can establish best practices, improve training programmes, and create pathways for information sharing."
Acknowledging the importance of pharmacists in the healthcare delivery chain, Dr Boadu expressed the believe that as the PMHGh aligned their expertise with other stakeholders, it could enhance medication management for individuals with mental disorders, improve treatment outcomes, and contribute to overall wellness.
The President of PMHGh, Dr Richard Adusa-Poku, in an address said, one key mission of PMHGh was to reduce stigmatisation related to mental illness through dispelling myths and misconceptions.
He said the network had collaborated with the Ghana College of Pharmacists to train mental health professionals who could contribute to research into investment in the future.
"In Ghana, the MH specialists like psychiatrists, psychiatrist nurses, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers are mentioned in literature without pharmacists.
We hope that in the near future, psychiatric pharmacists would be trained and deployed during clinical ward practice as it happens in some specialties of medicine in Ghana to improve mental health," he stated.