Koforidua, July 21, GNA - The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has engaged a cross-section of journalists to help disseminate information on mental health activities rolled out to improve the health needs of deaf people.
The project titled: “Empowering deaf people for improved mental health,” is being rolled out in Greater Accra, Central, Upper West and Northern Regions, with funding support from Somubi Dwumadie, a local NGO and UKAID.
Mr Robert Sampana, GNAD-Mental Health Project Officer, told the media that mental health was a national health concern and should not be toyed with, especially when it involved deaf people who face severe stigmatisation.
He said a baseline research survey would be conducted to help establish and gauge the level of deaf people with mental health challenges and to guide the smooth implementation of the project.
Mr Sampana said the project would identify hospitals that provide psychological treatments and direct deaf people with mental health to those facilities to seek appropriate services, adding, “So in the implementation people will know where to go for treatment.”
It would also train healthcare workers in various hospitals on basic sign language for effective communication and how to handle effectively deaf people who visit their facilities for services.
He said it was on that score that the Association was seeking to work closely with the media in a formal way to help educate the public and project matters affecting deaf people.
Mr Kakra Ankobiah, Coordinator, GNAD Danish Deaf Association Sign Language Project, “recognition and promotion of Ghana sign language” expressed worry that “access to health care is next to impossibility for deaf people, no one is ready to learn sign language,” adding, “the media is always focused on hearing.”
He said the project was key as it aimed at alleviating some of the worries of deaf people and empowering them to empower others and building synergies to ensure government support for the over 110,000 deaf people in Ghana.
In most cases, he said, people identify and classify deaf people as one with the same characteristics, but forget that each individual has unique physiognomies just like any other person.
Mr Richard Doku, GNAD-Sign Language Officer, also expressed unhappiness about wrong perceptions many people always have about deaf people and the media, especially, using certain offensive nomenclatures to address deaf people.
Mr Doku who is himself deaf, stated that deaf people prefer to be called “deaf people or deaf person” but not as “deaf and dumb.”
GNAD with more than 11,000 members nationwide is working closely with the Ministry of Health through its agency Ghana Health Service and Persons With Disability to support implementation of the project which is expected to run for three years.