From the GHLI Conference to the Ghana Government: The Progress of the Mental Health Bill

As the GHLI Student Fellow program continues to expand, we are always more than pleased to see that our students are involved with making a difference in their delegate countries.

This week, GHLI student fellow, Rebecca Distler, joined the Ghana delegation in their meeting with the Vice President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama. The delegates, who attended GHLI’s annual conference this June, updated Mahama on the outcomes of the conference at Yale, and the post-Yale activities that the delegation had accomplished. The Vice President, who also made a visit to the GHLI Conference, has pledged to support the delegation’s work on improving mental health care in Ghana. At the Conference, Mahama said that he is “happy that the delegation is actively living up to what was expected,” and spoke about launching a public awareness campaign for mental health to change the current thinking in Ghana of “mental health being an afterthought.”

Mahama has already begun to follow through on his words at Yale by charging the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to launch a national campaign to create awareness about mental health and reduce stigma against mental health patients in the country.

During their meeting, the delegation presented the newly drafted post-Yale work plan, on which Rebecca was able to assist, along with a timeline for completion and a budget. They also requested that the mental health bill, which has entered into Parliament’s agenda for a second reading, be put under their consideration when they reconvene in October.

The meeting was photographed by journalists for several newspaper outlets, and was filmed for national news. Read the story in the Ghanaian news here.

Jeannie Mantopoulos, Assistant Director, Yale Global Health Leadership Institute

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