Stigmatization of Mental Illness: Implications for Mental Health Recovery Among Persons Receiving Mental Health Care At Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Ghana
Despite the breakthrough made in the field of psychiatry as a branch of medicine in enlightening our understanding of mental illness, persons with mental illness (PWMI) continue to be saddled with numerous challenges as a result of stigmatization. This study explored factors that account for stigmatization and the effect of these factors on persons with mental illness receiving treatment at Ankafu Psychiatric Hospital in Ghana. Using a concurrent mixed method design, data was gathered through a structured questionnaire among PWMI and, by means of an interview among health professionals and patients' relatives. Purposive sampling techniques (maximum variation sampling technique and criterion sampling) were used in combination with convenience sampling technique to gather data from 88 respondents selected from a population of 263 mentally ill patients and health professionals. Findings from the study showed that media-related factors, clinical factors such as signs and symptoms among PWMI, side-effects of medication, and social beliefs, accounted for stigma towards PWMI. The study also revealed that stigmatization affects the mental health recovery of PWMI leading to relapse of their condition. The study, recommended that the Mental Health Authority in conjunction with management of the Ankaful Hospital should intensify health education and contact with PWMI in order to help them cope with stigma. They should also ensure that mental ill patients are psychologically prepared by the hospital before discharging them into the communities to minimize the incidence of relapse.
Key words- Mental illness, Relapse, Lucid interval, Stigmatization