UNIC Accra Marks International Youth Day with a Forum

Accra, 13 August, 2014 – The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Accra in collaboration with the Accra Psychiatric Hospital (APH) and the Coalition of NGOs in Ghana Associated with UN-DPI (CUNANGOs) marked this year’s International Youth Day (IYD) with a youth forum under the theme “Youth & Mental Health”. The event brought together about 100 youth, students and health professionals from the APH.

Cross section of participants at the IYD event

Cross section of participants at the IYD event

The youth forum was aimed at creating awareness on mental illness and the impact of stigmatization of people with mental illness.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Adjoa Pinaman Appau, Deputy Medical Director at the APH, stated that the hospital is very much concerned at the increasing rate of mental illness among the Ghanaian youth which she attributed mainly to the use of of drugs such as alcohol and cannabis (locally called “wee”). Deterring the youth from experimenting with hard drugs, Dr. Appau mentioned that 70% of hard drugs users die before they turn 60 years of age. She advised the youth to take their mental health care seriously and maintain a good lifestyle for a brighter future.

Dr. Lily Kpobi addressing the participants

Dr. Lily Kpobi addressing the participants

Discussing the negative effects of stigmatization against patients of mental illness, Dr. Lily Kpobi, a Clinical Psychologist, and Lecturer at the University of Ghana stated that “stigmatization can negatively prolong the duration of curing a mentally ill person”. She noted that mental illness can be treated and managed, giving the patient a chance to live long and have a healthy life, adding that “mental illness by itself does not kill the patient”.

Answering a question from Emmanuel Yali, a participants at the youth forum, on chaining as a method of restraining people with mental illness, Dr. Kpobi said the action is inhumane and an infringement on the rights of the supposed patient. She advised caregivers and the general public to refrain from such practices.

Mr. Nsiah Anyetei, Director of Nursing at the APH took participants through some simple steps to calm people with aggressive tendencies without injuring themselves or the patient.

At the end of the forum, participants were taken on a tour of the hospital to familiarize themselves with the operations of the facility and what persons with mental illness go through.

Prior to this forum, UNIC Accra was engaged in number of media discussions to throw light on the essence of this year’s commemoration of International Youth Day.