Clubhouse International a growing organization, helping communities’ worldwide find cost-effective and sustainable solutions for mental illness has established Clubhouse Ghana the first in West Africa to run the same psychosocial and social rehabilitation model.
According to the founder of Clubhouse Ghana, Mona Lisa “ML” Brookshire née Blay-Miezah, Clubhouse Ghana is a community-oriented rehabilitation centre to help revamp and re-integrate mental healthcare delivery into the fabric of society.
“Clubhouse Ghana believes that relationships such as social ties and all other forms of healthy engagements promote a good sense of belonging which is vital in the recovery process for persons who have mental illnesses. “
She said, “Clubhouse Ghana aims to provide well-structured and all-inclusive therapeutic services in a conducive environment for people whose lives have been severely thwarted due to severe mental illness (SMI) by providing lasting and workable support that is not readily accessible and affordable within their means to once again enable them fully functional.”
“Clubhouse Ghana has a competent human resource team of specially trained staff from relevant and diverse backgrounds to assist in the rehabilitation process.” She added.
Speaking to Francis on Morning Starr, she said the centre, when completed next year, will open its doors to recovered patients and clients; and provide them with skills in carpentry, farming, cooking, bartending, masonry, plumbing, as well as other trades etc. (if necessary); in order for them to be self-sufficient when they recover from a mental condition in any local psychiatric hospital.
She said, “The recovered individuals will gain an inner sense of self-pride, resilience and tenacity to face life’s challenges head-on even when their families or communities forsake them due to the stigma attached to mental health and the shrouded influence in its wake.”
The Founder explained that the general objective will be to support the government’s effort to integrate mental health into the general healthcare delivery system across the country.
She noted that mental health is indeed critical because it impacts the thoughts, behaviours and emotions of individuals; and as such, has a direct impact on one’s actions and inactions as well as one’s sense of judgement and self-worth.
She further stated that mental health also has socio-economic implications for the patients, their families and the nation as a whole, since it contributes significantly to productivity and the human resource base of any country in Africa or the world at large.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 13 per cent of Ghanaians are mentally challenged.
However, Ms Blay-Miezah bemoaned the fact that the issue has not really been given the needed attention over the years due to several factors such as misconceptions, the fear of stigmatisation, lack of training, poor funding mechanisms, ignorance, spiritual connotations, indifference, negligence, among others.
With great optimism and enthusiasm for the celebration of life and stability, mentally challenged individuals that roam naked and hungry and unkempt will be finally taken off the streets and taken care of indefinitely.
For those that are functional, Ms. Blay-Miezah said they would attain their free Basic Senior High School (SHS) education through the involvement of the Ministry of Education.
By virtue of the Rehabilitation Center’s objectives, the functional “clients” (no longer referred to as “patients”); will also learn a trade as quickly as possible and find work and accommodation with assistance from their assigned social workers.
“Sadly, those that are assessed to be non-functional or completely dysfunctional by the Head Psychiatrists will be committed for life into the institution and taken care of till they expire one day,” she indicated.
All these services will be completely free of charge, with the medical services rolled into a specific healthcare insurance plan. Duly, from the provisions of international funding; no challenged client will ever be turned away or rejected.
The situation in Ghana
In Ghana, it is a common phenomenon to see mentally ‘handicapped’ people loitering both day and night without proper clothing, food and medication. Mental Health patients are oftentimes unable to access the needed social or medical support.
Out of desperation coupled with Africa’s unnerving focus on superstition, most mentally challenged individuals are rather sent to spiritual leaders for exorcism and healing.
The aforementioned have devalued the dignity, worth and rights of the patients living with a mental health condition, an experience, Ms. Blay-Miezah said should not be encouraged in the 21st century in an otherwise advanced country like mother Ghana.
The Ministry of Health, as well as the Ministry of Education, will work for hand in hand to propel the ML4Lyfe Foundation, as well as its non-profit NGO-arm, to succeed at all costs.
Clubhouse Ghana is admirably the first-ever rehabilitation centre to be established in the entire West-African region. There are only two other Clubhouse-franchised rehabilitation centres in Uganda and South Africa. Hence, Ghana will hold the mantle as the first trailblazing country to be granted funding, US resources and World Mental Health Federation support from Clubhouse International in Manhattan, New York, to establish a Center that will operate primarily with the NGO’s business model as a whole.
Awareness and erudition
Clubhouse Ghana will schedule tours for CEOs to visit the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Pantang and Ankaful to take an introspective look at the present heart-tugging unfortunate living conditions of individuals at the facilities.
After the tour’s end for over 400 Corporate CEOs of Ghana and beyond, the Ghana CEO Summit will grant Ms Blay-Miezah an opportune moment to share a 20-minute reel and presentation at the next Summit in May 2022.
Her impassioned plea at the Summit will focus more on educative awareness, as opposed to fundraising because she believes that the latter will follow as soon as the powers that be understand mental health and truly get it.
In August 2021, the ML4Lyfe Foundation entered a Partnership with Rotary Club International to positively and substantially impact the health and wellbeing of people with serious mental illnesses in Ghana by aiding their rehabilitation and therapeutic process, which will be a significant step towards their aim of living independent lives.
Clubhouse Ghana was founded in 2021 by mental health advocates whose relatives, friends, and colleagues lived with severe mental illnesses. These mental health advocates were passionate about creating a place of excellence where their loved ones and other people living with similar conditions could build relationships with peers and achieve resilience and recovery.