The Ghana Psychology Council (GPC) has called for greater attention to be given to mental health in the country to minimise the chances of people falling victim to illnesses associated with the phenomenon, ABC News can report.
According to the Registrar of the Ghana Psychology Council, Dr. Dinah Baah Odoom, there are several triggers of mental health problems within our Ghanaian society that has been ignored for so long, yet these are causing harm to a lot of people.
A common mental health disorder that hasn’t been given attention, she explained, is the phenomenon where many people have developed the desire of changing their body types, particularly, to grow slim because they are displeased with their shape or form or think themselves too fat.
Some people, she noted, go as far as starving themselves to become slim or performing surgeries to have a particular look.
This she suggested is alien to the Ghanaian culture but due to the influence of social media, it has become a normal feature, particularly, among university students.
“These days we have Ghanaians going for body sculpture, I just wonder when it became a fashion and so people think they don’t have the correct body type, we have something called body dysmorphic disorder, you don’t like your body, I used to think it affects people in the West when you can go for plastic surgeries so if they have the cheap one here where you can put something around your waist or your bust, it’s the same thing, so people begin to think they are not beautiful enough.
“Anorexia nervousa, is people who look in the mirror and think they are big or fat so they want to be slim and so they starve themselves, and bulimia who eat and take purgatives so that they can be slim, these are all mental health problems. We’re seeing a number of them in our hospitals that they are seeing a lot of young people, with bulimia and it’s affecting young people in universities who want to look like only God knows what. Social media is also adding to the stress and consequently suicidal ideations and hate of self” she stated.
The use of deplorable roads and staying in traffic for long hours, among others, are common causes of illness associated with mental health, like stress disorders which manifest as hypertension and diabetes, that many people are not aware of.
Dr. Dinah Baah Odoom, in an exclusive interview with ABC News, noted with worry that as the risk of mental health increases, the chances of people committing suicide is also very high.
“Not much attention has been paid to mental health in general, suicide is just one small bit. Mental health in general, many people are not looking at it. You know, stress disorder, acute stress, post-traumatic stress, you’ll be in traffic for two hours and get to work do you think you’re normal? these are all mental health problems because stress will affect your ability to work, to concentrate, to contribute productively to your work, you’re already tired, stress you accumulate. These are just the ordinary ones we all experience, so if it’s too much and you have to drive through some horrible roads to church or work, any time you get to work, do you think you will feel happy? these are all emotional things that affect our Psyche. Stress disorders are there, it may manifest as hypertension, diabetes, physical illness, which we’re not even paying attention to” she told Adwoa Tengkomaa of ABC News.
The Ghana Psychological Council Registrar stressed that “everybody is a potential madman and once you’re a potential madman it means that you’re also a potential suicide candidate”
Depression, according to Dr. Baah-Odoom, is the “common code of mental illness”.
She advised Ghanaians to pay particular attention to mental health in order to have citizens who can contribute meaningfully to society.
“Many people may be depressed because depression is a common code of mental illness. 80% or more of people who are depressed are like me and you who go to work, marry, go to church so how will you know? unless maybe something drastic happens, we may not know, so we’re not paying attention to mental health at all, when we pay attention to mental health then we can live productive lives and we can contribute meaningfully to our society”