From mental health policy development in Ghana to implementation: What are the barriers?

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African Journal of Psychiatry

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University of Cape Town

Objective: This paper identifies the key barriers to mental health policy implementation in Ghana and suggests ways of overcoming them. Method: The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitatively, the WHO Mental Health Policy and Plan Checklist and the WHO Mental Health Legislation Checklist were employed to analyse the content of mental health policy, plans and legislation in Ghana. Qualitative data was gathered using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders in mental health at the macro, meso and micro levels. These were used to identify barriers to the implementation of mental health policy, and steps to overcoming these. Results: Barriers to mental health policy implementation identified by participants include: low priority and lack of political commitment to mental health; limited human and financial resources; lack of intersectoral collaboration and consultation; inadequate policy dissemination; and an absence of research-based evidence to inform mental health policy. Suggested steps to overcoming the barriers include: revision of mental health policy and legislation; training and capacity development and wider consultation. Conclusion: These results call for well-articulated plans to address the barriers to the implementation of mental health policy in Ghana to reduce the burden associated with mental disorders.