Don't Lock Up Children With Mental Illness

By Daily Graphic

Experts on mental health have cautioned parents to desist from locking children suffering from mental illness indoors or sending them to spiritualists for treatment.

They said hiding children with mental illness indoors or seeking spiritual assistance for them was a crude method of treatment, explaining that it rather deepened the condition of such children, since they were chained, whipped and kept in poor environments.

At some prayer camps where such children were kept, they were fed like dogs and were hardly bathed or given decent clothes to wear.

In an interview with the Junior Graphic at a workshop for Mental Health Reporters organised by BasicNeeds, Ghana, the Medical Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Akwasi Osei said children, especially faced a lot of mental challenges.

He noted that many people wrongly believed that those with mental health problems were 'mad', and that was the main reason why parents felt shy sending their children to psychiatric hospitals for them to receive proper medical care.

He pointed out that children differed from adults because they experienced many physical, mental and emotional changes as they progressed through their natural growth and development stages.

“They are also in the process of learning how to cope with, adapt and relate to others and the world around them. Furthermore, each child matures at his or her own pace,” he said.

Mr Osei said for these reasons, it was good for both teachers and parents to consider how well a child functioned at home, within the family, at school and with his or her peers.

He said there were several different types of mental disorders that could affect children and adolescents, including attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder.

Children with that kind of disorder generally had problems paying attention or concentrating; couldn't seem to follow directions and were easily bored and frustrated by tasks, he added.

He also said such children tended to move constantly and were impulsive (the do not think before they act).


Story by Hadiza Billa Quansah