Mental Health-Related Stigma and Discrimination in Ghana: Experience of Patients and Their Caregivers
Background: Mental health is now attracting increased public health attention from health professionals, policy makers and the general population. However, stigma and discrimination usually have enormous negative impact on the patients and their families. This study reports on stigma and discrimination faced by mental health patients and their caregivers in a suburban area of Ghana and the coping strategies used.
Method: This is a cross-sectional exploratory study which used both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Two hundred and seventy seven mental health patients were purposively interviewed. Focus group discussions were held with caregivers and in-depth interviews were held with mental health professionals. The quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS and Microsoft Excel® whilst the qualitative data were coded and manually analyzed thematically.
Results: Mental disorder cuts across all age, sex, education, ethnicity, employment, and marital status. More females were stigmatized than males at the work/employment and educational levels. Various forms of stigma were observed at the economic, psychological and social levels, whilst for discrimination it was only observed at the economic and social levels. Caregivers were also stigmatized and discriminated. The coping strategies adopted by the mental patients and their caregivers were also economic, psychological and social in nature.
Conclusion: Mental health patients and their families suffer from stigma and discrimination from the individual, family, work, employment, education to the health level. Thus, community level policy on mental health care needs to be developed and implemented. Furthermore mental health education needs to be intensified at the community level.
Keywords: stigma, discrimination, mental health,caregivers, coping strategies, Ghana
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