The Mental Health Authority (MHA), has expressed worry about the addictive betting practices among sections of the youth, describing it as a mental health disorder that must be given serious attention.
It said a person who had an ardent desire to betting was not different from the one addicted to substances.
Mr Victus Kweku Kpesese, Director of Administration of the MHA who expressed these concerns, said the practice had dire consequences on social and economic wellbeing of the country and called on all stakeholders to take steps to address the issues that drove the youth into betting.
He was speaking at the eighth congregation and 17th matriculation ceremony of the Ankaful Psychiatric Nurses’ Training College, in Cape Coast on the theme “Community-base mental health nursing education, our priority”
A total of 195 and 201 psychiatric nurses who completed their study for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic year graduated respectively while 214 new students were matriculated.
Mr Kpesese noted that the unemployed youth have a lot of choices in life to improve their lot and they must not depend on betting to bring the fortune.
He explained that “betting used more of the brain, so the more you do it, the more it put pressure on it, resulting in partial mental disorders”.
“That’s is why you see some young people stealing in the communities either to bet or to buy marijuana."
Mr Kpesese encouraged mental health practitioners to be on the lookout for such new and emerging areas of addiction and use their skills and knowledge to fill the gaps in mental health delivery.
He described the theme as apt because it reiterated the focus of the Authority to strengthen community mental health approach as part of its mental health policy.
“Surely, the concept and practice of community mental health is a policy that will derive its achievement from a number of strategic investments including workforce of professionals in community mental health nursing and allied staff,” he said.
Mr Kpesese advised the mental health nurses to use the knowledge and skills acquired to increase advocacy and use their capacities as nurses to improve the quality of life of people.
He further challenged them to go out to provide relevant services in a manner that demystify mental health and reduce stigma and discrimination.
Mrs Tina Ayeley Mensah, Deputy Minister of Health, admonished families and faith based organisations to stop putting mentally ill persons in chains at prayer camps and churches but refer them to hospital for treatment.
She advised the newly graduated nurses to adhere to the code of conduct of their profession as indicated in the mental health act and the guidelines of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), stressing that under no circumstance should a patient be abused.