Mental Health Infrastructure in Ghana

The World Health Organization in 2016 reported that of the 21.6 million people that lived in Ghana, 650,000 suffered from a severe mental disorder. The report furthered that a further 2.16million suffered from moderate to mild mental disorders. The Mental Health Authority provides more insightful data as it revealed in 2017 that about 41 percent of Ghanaians had some psychological disorder. The report by the Mental Health Authority in 2017 further indicated that about four million Ghanaians, out of the estimated population of 28million at the time were suffering from mild to severe mental illness.

Sadly, at present, there are only three prominent psychiatric hospitals dedicated to fully focus on mental health diseases and serve as referral hospitals for community-based clinics. The capacity of these hospitals and the demand for health care by mental health patients implies that their capacity is overstretched. Generally, the funding, logistics, and infrastructural capacity of mental health hospitals is nothing to write home about. The consequences of this deficiency include the dumping of mentally ill people on our streets and communities. The overstretched capacity of these hospitals implies that patients are turned away from the hospital, with no regard for their right to proper health care.

Mental health hospitals and their officials continue to make complaints about a general lack of infrastructure to help them provide the needed health care for their patients. A research report in May 2010 by the African Journal of Psychiatry stated that practically when a patient is admitted to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital at any point in time, the chance of that patient sleeping on the floor is higher than the chance of getting a bed to sleep on. The hospital which was built over a century ago in 1906, has not seen any major facelift, with a bed capacity of 300, the hospital continues to be overcrowded with an increasing population, thereby compromising the comfort and general wellbeing of patients. 

The other two remaining hospitals are in no better standing. The Ankaful hospital is the largest of the three psychiatric hospitals, built in 1965 with a bed capacity of 500. The Pantang Psychiatric hospital has only a bed capacity of 156.  The African Journal of Psychiatry also posited that the number of patients seen at the outpatient departments of the three hospitals is about 75,000, which indicates a heavy clinical workload.

Clearly, the above suggests that the state of psychiatric hospitals is in shambles and requires swift action towards expansion and logistics to help guarantee the right of mental health patients to access proper health care in Ghana. Governments and well-meaning agencies owe a responsibility to humanity to help address this challenge before the situation gets out of hand


B Akpalu, C Lund, V Doku, A Ofori-Atta et al, Scaling up community-based services and improving quality of care in the state psychiatric hospitals: the way forward for Ghana; African Journal of Psychiatry 2010;13:109-115

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