The finance and administrative officer at the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism, Madam Mawuse Yakor-Hamidu has said it is about time people address persons with disability, persons with albinism, and persons with mental health disorders by their names and not their specific conditions to be able to fight stigma in society.
“We are born black in white skin but that doesn’t make us different. People have funny names they call us and that affect us”. Madam Mamuse
She added that “everyone was given a name at birth and so we will have to address people by their names. Calling persons with Albinism with names like Ofirijato, Obroni or Yevu are derogatory and affects us psychologically”.
She explained that living with Albinism in itself affects the individual psychologically because you always want to belong or fit in and so calling names that only remind the person that he or she is different affects the person such that they always feel isolated and lonely.
Madam Yakor-Hamidu urged others living with albinism and other conditions not to accept derogatory names and negative stereotypes labeled against them as a way of sending a clear message to members of society to desist calling them these derogatory names.
Although laws such as the Disability Act and the mental Health Act, are enacted to promote disability inclusion in Ghana, there are still challenges that these group of persons face. Some of the Challenges they face include limited or restricted access to services and facilities such as education, funding, and information. They also face stigma and discrimination which hugely impact on their ability to reach their full potential.
Hope for Future Generations and the Psykforum with funding from UKaid through Ghana Somubi Dwumadie is implementing the Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) and stigma reduction for mental health and disability inclusion (Ghana Participatory SBC) project to address some of these gaps.
The three-year project which is aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination among persons with disabilities including mental health is being implemented in 4 regions: Greater Accra, Central, Savanna and North -East with funding from UKaid.
It is expected that the project will promote a positive culture of support to allow people with disabilities, including people with mental health conditions to reach their full potential, increase use of positive disability and mental health language in Ghana as well as improve enforcement of Ghana’s Disability and Mental health policies and laws by duty bearers.
As part of the strategies to increase the use of positive disability and mental health language in Ghana, a one-day meeting was organized for key stakeholders in the Greater Accra region with the aim of developing a positive language which can be used to engage the public towards reduction in negative and discriminatory attitudes, behaviours and norms faced by people with disabilities in Ghana, including people with mental health disabilities.
The project brought together 20 participants from the Greater Accra region including disability groups, religious and traditional groups, Social Welfare and the Mental Health Authority.
The participants with the help of facilitators, who are expect in Ga language, disability and mental health conditions were tasked to develop positive languages which will be shared with the media, stakeholders, and community members.
Similar activity will be held in Central, Savannah and North-East regions of Ghana. The positive words developed will be used to engage targeted audience and key stakeholders including the media.