The University of Cape Coast (UCC) has emerged winner of the sixth inter-medical school public speaking competition held in Accra.
This is the second time the UCC has won the competition which is organised by the Mental Health Authority.
Competing schools were the University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
The University of Ghana took the second position while the KNUST placed third.
The debate was sponsored by the Patrick’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, Professional Corporation Canada and Dr Vincent Agyapong, a consultant Psychiatrist.
For their prize, the winners have the opportunity to spend four weeks at the St Patrick’s University Hospital in Ireland in an exchange programme in Psychiatry.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, said the competition which began in 2010 was to encourage the study of mental health in schools.
He said mental illness was not infectious and, therefore, urged students in medical schools not to hesitate in specialising in the sector.
Dr Osei indicated that the various psychiatric hospitals in the country lacked adequate funding, resources and personnel and as such were not functioning effectively.
According to him, because of the challenges mental institutions were facing, nurses at the hospitals were often frustrated, leading to strike actions.
According to a Level 500 student contestant from the UCC, Patrick Armah, the debate was an eye-opener with regard to mental health issues.
He said because mental health was an important component of the healthcare system, it was necessary that issues on the subject were taken more seriously.
Mr Armah expressed hope that the competition would motivate more students to venture into the study of mental health in the universities.
Dr Vincent Agyapong, who spoke on behalf of the sponsors, called on the government to allocate funds to support people suffering from mental illness.
He said the working environment for psychiatrists in the country was depressing enough.
Dr Agyapong observed that the Mental Health Authority had been relying on donations from the United Kingdom (UK) and described the situation as unfortunate.
“You cannot run a mental health service with ad hoc funding,” he said.
According to Dr Agyapong, there is the need for the government to make special provisions in its budget for mental health care.