Abena Korkor Addo and the problematic issue of mental health in Ghana

Abena Korkor Addo and the problematic issue of mental health in Ghana

Whether or not Ghanaians would ever take the issue of mental health seriously depends on people like Abena Korkor Addo, who are made ambassadors for the issue and its social consequences.

The United Nations' World Health Organisation (UN-WHO) believes it is impossible to define a healthy person without consideration for their mental or psychological health. This aspect of a healthy person is not popular with Ghanaians.

Why is is that we do not think about the mental health of our people? Maybe it is because when you come from a generally poor society, bread and butter matter more than the voices in your head.

On a TV show in April of 2019 in the US, a South African girl in an interraction with Oprah Winfrey said "she is African and cannot be mentally depressed".

The challenge to educate our people on mental health needs effective public relations. People need to be convinced that you do not need to be naked in the streets to be considered "mad".

And that is where the likes of Abena Korkor Addo come in.

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Since her infamous semi-nude and raunchy videos went viral on social media in 2014, Addo has managed to rework herself into the de facto face of mental health in Ghana.

She has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder by experts at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital and to her credit, partnered with stakeholders to raise awareness on mental health.

Unfortunately, the way branding and public relations work is that, when you become the face of a sensitive issue, people expect you to be "above sin". When you cannot do that, people find your leadership role problematic.

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Ghanaians have become used to Addo plugging into and unplugging from sanity, so to speak. We do not know if she is acting out of her personal capacity or from her ailment anytime a video comes out.

But that is where the problem lies. The fear here is that have Ghanaians seen so much of the raunchy videos from Addo that we have become detached from the points her ambassadorial role seeks to make?

Are we in danger of bringing down our moral judgements on a poor young woman and therefore forgetting the lessons we may learn from her?

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The fight to educate our people on mental health is about what people see and hear. This is public relations and public debate.

YEN.com.gh is not asking that Addo is kept away from the public because she might undo her good work. We are not asking that she does not live her life to the fullest.

We are asking that friends, family and fellows around her need to understand that we need someone the Ghanaian public can trust.

We do not need a perfect Abena Korkor Addo. We need a believable Abena Korkor Addo, and all must be on deck to make sure she succeeds because that holds consequences for all of us.

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Source: Yen

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