September 3, 2013

Mah Krow, Ghana! (Farewell, Ghana!)

Perri Kasen, 2013 GHLI Fellow

Now that I’ve settled back into a routine in New Haven, it almost feels like my summer in Ghana was a dream. The hustle and bustle of the tro-tro stations, the smell of banku and tilapia wafting into my apartment, the infectious music that forces you to move, and the sense that all of humanity is one large family – I miss it all immensely.

With the recent conclusion of the ongoing election trial in the Supreme Court, real progress can be made on implementing the 2012 Mental Health Act in its entirety. With President John Dramani Mahama no longer preoccupied by the court proceedings, he can resume his political work – including establishing a Mental Health Authority and Mental Health Fund to support this Act.  Further, the 2013 cohort of Psych Corps has been orientated and deployed across the country to perform community mental health work.

On a personal level, this summer solidified my desire to work in health systems strengthening within developing countries, yet also showed me how frustrating and difficult this type of work can prove to be. I experienced firsthand how stigma, insufficient funding, lackluster political will, and a lack of awareness of an issue can hinder success in implementing grand strategies in global health. Overcoming such complex hurdles requires true cooperation and continued collaboration for effective and sustainable change to occur. Despite the many obstacles the Ghanaian delegation continues to face in ramping up access to quality mental healthcare, I am hopeful that those championing the cause can muster enough political support to see true improvement. I am so grateful for this experience and am positive that the lessons I learned and people I met during my Ghanaian summer will stay with me as I embark on a career as a global health practitioner.

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