BasicNeeds-Ghana, on September 6 and 7, 2017 met with managers of prayer camps in the Eastern Region as part of a UK aid funded project titled “Support Mental Health Services in Ghana”. These engagements, which took place in Koforidua and Nkawkaw, respectively, were meant to promote collaboration between non-formal mental health service providers and counterparts in the formal sector, especially in areas where non-formal health providers were the predominant mental health service providers.
In welcoming the participants, Adam Dokurugu Yahaya, Programmes Manager of BasicNeeds-Ghana, indicated that mental health of people with psychosocial needs should be a matter of prime importance to both formal and non-formal mental health service providers. He further stated that for there to be a marked improvement in the lives of those who patronise mental health services from prayers camps and other non-formal service providers, there was the need to collaborate. He insisted that collaboration was only possible within an atmosphere of openness, mutual respect and a desire to learn, innovate and cooperate.
Knowledge and Communications Officer of BasicNeeds-Ghana, Fred Nantogmah, shared some perspectives on evidence supporting BasicNeeds-Ghana’s notion that collaboration between formal and non-formal mental health service providers could inure to the benefit of people with mental health service needs. He affirmed that a lot of Ghanaians still believed in the spiritual origins of mental illness. As such, prayer camps were the first point of call for many people living in areas with low access to formal mental health care. This, in his view, had made it imperative that the practices of prayer camps be moderated to protect human rights and an opportunity to explore new ways of fostering fruitful collaboration between prayer camps and formal mental health service providers. He added that BasicNeeds-Ghana was very much interested in how both formal and non-formal mental health service providers could collaborate to ensure better mental health services for all.