I was prompted to write about this topic because of a headline that appeared on my phone via Multi TV in Ghana. A young male committed suicide. The psychiatrist that was quoted in the article stated that suicide is a growing concern in Ghana. I then did a Google search and according to the Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHMC), depression is the leading cause of mental illness in Ghana. These prospects made me sad. However, I then decided that the best way to ultimately combat this challenge is to open up a dialogue about it.
Ghanaians are known for their mental and physical strength, resilience, strong faith in a higher power, impeccable work ethic, friendly demeanour and hospitality among other things. So although these wonderful attributes are bound to be noticed in an interaction with a Ghanaian, we as a people are also taught not to discuss our challenges. Whether the reason being is not to disturb others, adding to the adage that “everyone has problems”, not to appear weak, or fear of our foes or non-well-wishers having a reason to jubilate about our demise, depression is a problem that is worldwide and does not make any of us any less human.
Culture of Sweeping Issues Under The Rug
This is a generalisation, however Ghanaians do not like to appear vulnerable, shamed or foolish. A Ghanaian person can be dying but will smile until the bitter end. Although it is necessary to remain steadfast in the midst of challenges, it is also pertinent to discuss universal issues that affect all of us.
What Can Be Done?
First off, stop shaming or discouraging the use of therapy and psychiatric services. I am a huge believer in the power of prayer. Nevertheless, some mental illnesses require the use of drugs and talk therapy so the afflicted can become better or at the very least be able to cope with their condition. This includes severe depression. Clinical depression (CD) is REAL and debilitating. CD can disturb everyday life functioning and sometimes the brain function of a depressed person may need to be regulated by the use of medication. Let’s create a culture of support, open up a dialogue about depression, encourage the use of therapy alongside religion and let us strive to be the best we can be.
What do you think? Have you suffered from depression? How did you overcome it?