Acting Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Adwoa Pinamang, has called a state-led action to improve mental health among young children.
Speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, she said the 7% of Ghanaian youth documented to be living with mental illness signifies a bigger problem since mental health cases are always under-reported.
“About half of all people above 14 [years] suffer from mental illness here in Africa and most of these go unnoticed and that is why this year’s World Mental Health Day is dedicated to the youth”, Dr Adwoa said on the Super Morning Show.
She added that globally “depression is the third cause of ill health among adolescents and suicide is the second leading cause of death among the youth”.
Dr Adwoa explained that many children are lately being subjected to bouts of depression at their schools and in relationships but are unable to open up about these with their parents.
Also speaking on AM Show on the Joy News channel (MultiTV) Dr Kwadwo Obeng said many parents fail to make adequate time for their children because they are consumed by work.
“A lot of children go before school hours start and stay after school hours, this opens them to a lot of unwanted influences and since they have little interaction with their parents, its difficult for them to open up to them”, he said.
Madam Faustina, a primary school teacher, explained on the AM Show that “some parents leave their children at school as early as 5:00 AM because they have to work”.
She added: “These children during the school hours look tired all the time, cannot focus, look unhappy irritable, and use the smallest chance to sleep.”
Dr Obeng explained that “memories are formed properly when one sleeps hence all the things learnt in the day are consolidated and turns into long termed memories. If a child is kept from the normal hours of sleep, the first thing it affects is their ability to retain the information learnt during the day.”
Dr Pinamang said that the inability of children to share their problems with their parents also make them more depressed as they try to deal with them alone.
Dr Pinamang encouraged the use of counselling centres to address mental health challenges. She, however, admitted that the stigma that comes with seeking help from counselling centres needs to be tackled with equal dedication.
She also stated urged parents to pay attention to cyberbullying of their children and protect them from its harmful effects.