I was at an event the other week and Uncle Papa, high commissioner to the UK was talking about a Ghanaian woman he had met. She was suffering from mental health issues and his response was to go back to Ghana. He then implied that in Ghana there was no mental health issues.
First of all, yes there are, but instead of addressing someone’s issues, they are called witches. Second of all there is a whole area called Asylum Down, which if I am not mistaken is where one of the mental health facilities is located, but I could be wrong.
Lastly, I am sure the lady in question would rather be in the hot sun absorbing her natural vitamin D everyday but if she goes back what exactly is she going to do there.
Let’s face facts, there has a been a lot of talk about returning home to contribute to “building” our nation, but every event I have been to so far has only discussed investment and business opportunities. Great initiatives yes, but what if you do not have the capital? Some of us have skills and knowledge that we want to take home, however, I have not heard mention of any avenue that provides assistance in this area so what is one supposed to do?
Now lets move on to the auntie who hustled to come here and is doing a manual job just to get by with the goal of getting her kids through school and now is in a place where she wants to go home. What assistance is out there for her. How would she integrate back into the Ghanaian society, because let’s face it, going back home on a four week holiday is very different to going back for good and without a plan or a steady income, it can be frustrating. So the reality is, auntie is going to stay here until she gets her little pension, she will while she is here, build her house back in Ghana bit by bit and if she is lucky she will get to go to Ghana once a month. In the meantime, she has to worry about her children, her extended family, and of course keeping a roof over her head here in the diaspora. So yes, these things are going to take it’s tole on her mental wellbeing but packing up and moving to Ghana, in my opinion is not a quick fix option.
In my opinion, Uncle Papa High commissioner should be working with the community in conjunction with mental wellness advisors to help those of us in the diaspora. Mental health issues have for far too long been a taboo in the Ghanaian community but the reality is in my 42 years, I have heard many stories of our people dying in one capacity or another due to a “breakdown”. We need to educate ourselves that it is ok to talk about it and it is ok to seek help.