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Treating Mental Ill Health - All Eyes to Accra

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Sitting on the edge of a self-help group meeting, Atta Kwabena talks openly via a translator about his experience of suffering mental health problems in Accra. His journey through mental illness so far has lasted twelve years. A combination of undiagnosed epilepsy and behavioural problems led to derision from others. Atta tells us that he believes that his mental ill health is attributed to the death of his twin and abandonment by his father.

Mental illness in the UK often walks hand in hand with stigmatisation but suffer from poor mental health in Ghana and you can find yourself triply disadvantaged by not only stigma, but also illness and poverty. Luckily for Atta he sought help and through numerous visits across the city to a mental hospital he discovered the Comic Relief funded Basic Needs project.

Hearing Atta talk with extreme pride, via a translator, about the furniture that he now makes really is testament to the wonderful work that the Basic Needs Trust can do.

The Basic Needs Trust has a long standing relationship with Comic Relief. Money raised through Red Nose Day has been supporting the project since 2002 and their work is resulting in positive change, not only in the lives of people with mental illness, but also in the society as a whole.

The Basic Needs unique approach is one that the UK could benefit from sitting up and paying close attention to. From a users first visit to one of the many Outreach Clinics that the Trust runs, the family and carers are also involved, receiving guidance and support in areas from understanding the specific illness to practical support. The mental illness is not treated by Basic Needs as a standalone problem of one person but as one of a whole, taking in to account the 'bigger picture' of a person's entire situation - including the people surrounding them.

Bernard Alando, the Trusts Knowledge and communications Officer explained to us that they believe that to just give a service user medication or a financial grant is not beneficial as standalone help. On-going support to ensure that people understand their medication and its importance in maintaining good health and financial training prior to loaning money are key to ensuring success.
Hearing Atta talk with extreme pride (via a translator) about the furniture that he now makes really is testament to the wonderful work that the Basic Needs Trust can do.

Such a positive and optimistic end to our visit to Accra with Comic Relief to celebrate the good work and progress achieved in the past 25 years with the public's support - to anyone who has ever donated, thank you.

Basic Needs is committed to improving the lives of those with mental ill health in Ghana and Tanzania. To find out more, please visit the Basic Needs website: www.mentalhealthanddevelopment.org

For the past 25 years the money raised through Red Nose Day has been changing the lives of 50 million people in the UK and Africa. Find out how to 'Keep Up the Good Work' at rednoseday.com