The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD), 2021 responded to the challenges faced by its members around mental health and commenced the implementation of a project called Empowered Deaf People for Improved Mental Health (ENDEIMH) with support from Ghana Somubi Dwumadie (Ghana Participation Program). The Ghana Participation Program is a four-year disability program in Ghana, with a specific focus on mental health. This program is funded with UK aid from the UK government and run by an Options-led consortium, which also consists of Basic Needs-Ghana, Kings College London, Sight savers International and Tropical Health.
The project is built on 3 main objectives and focuses on Deaf people.
In the first objective, the project will gather evidence-based information on the barriers and challenges deaf people face when accessing mental health services. The objective is important because currently there is no evidence-based information from Research on the challenges that deaf people face when accessing mental health services. Researchers on mental health in Ghana do not target Deaf people and there is, therefore, no evidence-based information on what Deaf people know about mental health and the challenges they face when seeking services. Public policy decision-making, therefore, does not include the mental health needs of deaf people. Findings from the research will help the association decide on how to train members, how to reach them with quality information on mental health, and how best to engage stakeholders in the form of advocacy.
In second objective, the project will strengthen mental health literacy among deaf people enabling them to take advantage of existing support systems and to understand that there are existing support services they can access when faced with a mental health issue. This is important because the ability of deaf people to utilize existing services and or avoid activities that will expose them to poor mental health outcomes is contingence upon them having good mental health literacy.
In third objective, the project seeks to advocate for national government commitments and support to enhance policy design in favor of mental health services for the Deaf community. Objective three seeks to ensure that mental health policies and services are accessible and take into consideration the needs of the deaf community.
Last year, GNAD got ethical approval from Ghana Health Service (GHS) ethic review committee to commence the research component under objective one. Data was collected from Deaf people, CSOs, caregivers, and some mental health services providers in the Northern, Upper West Region, Central, and Greater Accra Regions. Following that, 4 validation workshops were held in the 4 regions to share results of preliminary findings with a small group of people for their comments and suggestions that can enhance the content of the research report.
Following the completion of the validation workshops, further review was done to conclude the research report.
GNAD held a formal dissemination forum or a forum to disseminate the results of the research findings. The purpose of the forum was to formally disseminate the results of the research report and share it widely with the public; services providers, policymakers, academics, and whoever is interested in it. The overall aim is to let the public know what Deaf people in Ghana know about mental health, how they access services in an environment that is inaccessible, and some of the coping strategies they used when seeking mental health care. GNAD is happy to say that the dissemination exercise has been carried out in the Northern and Upper West Region and the Central Region. The Greater Accra Region will take its turn last which will be in the form of a National dissemination forum.
We wish to use this opportunity to thank the Regional Health Director and his team including the Regional Mental Health Coordinator, regional research officer, and all those involved for facilitating arrangements and mobilization of other stakeholders.