The Centre for People’s Empowerment and Rights Initiatives (CPRI), a Non-governmental Organisation, is advocating stakeholders commitment to addressing the unmet sexual and reproductive health needs of persons with mental health conditions at the community level.
It said the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) of persons with mental health conditions, including epilepsy were often relegated to the background.
Mr Dominic Wunigura, the Programmes Coordinator of the CPRI, said this at a durbar of traditional authorities, community influencers, health personnel, and the people of Ermon Traditional Area in the Lawra Municipality to create awareness on the SRHR of persons with mental health disorders.
He emphasised the need to ensure that such people were able to access services including menstrual hygiene, contraceptive information, and option and to walk confidently to health facilities for antenatal, skilled delivery, and postnatal services.
The durbar was also to ensure that community influencers including traditional authorities were supportive in ensuring that persons with mental health conditions were offered inclusion in the provision of SRH services in their communities as well as exercised their sexual and reproductive rights.
It formed part of the implementation of a project dubbed: “Building a Stronger Movement for Enhanced Inclusive Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Information and Services for Poor and Vulnerable Women and Youth Affected by Mental Disorders in Ghana”.
The project was being implemented in the region by the CPRI with funding support from AmplifyChange through BasicNeeds-Ghana.
The Mental Health Society of Ghana and NORSAAC were also implementing the project in the Greater Accra and Northern Regions respectively.
“These persons are denied their SRHR, meanwhile they also have sexual needs and day in, day out we find some women with mental health conditions getting pregnant, but it is very difficult to associate them with a particular sex partner and that’s because of the stigma that comes with the condition”, Mr Wunigura explained.
He also stressed the need for those who abused persons with mental health conditions to be brought to book by the community leaders to help end the practice.
Mr Lambert Gbang, the Mental Health Officer at the Lawra Municipal Health Directorate, noted that persons with mental health conditions also had unalienable rights including SRHR and that the abuse of those rights was liable to punishment by law.
He said caregivers of persons with mental health conditions needed to take the treatment of such people very seriously by giving them their medications regularly to help restore their conditions.
He stressed the need for persons with mental health conditions to be sent to the health facilities for treatment rather than resorting to herbal practitioners, which could aggravate their problems.
Madam Rose Zirinee, a primary beneficiary of the CPRI support to persons with mental health conditions and their caregivers at Yagtuur in the Lawra Municipality said through the intervention she had been able to further her education.
She added that other beneficiaries had been provided with skilled training and support in weaving, tailoring, and animal rearing among others to enable them to earn a decent living.
Similar programmes had been held in the Daffiama-Bussie-Issa (DBI) District and the Wa Municipality where the project is also being implemented.
About 600 persons with mental health disorders and caregivers are directly benefiting from the CPRI interventions with 24 peer educators within the self-help groups in the Lawra and Wa Municipalities and the DBI District.