Health and social care needs have always been the foundation of my interest and this is something that has remained constant throughout my life. From the very beginning, health and social care is already imbued within me as it was my first qualification at secondary level. I then went on to study Health & Social Care and Science in college for A Level. As I endeavoured further on my journey into the health sector I attended the University of Bedfordshire and obtained a degree in BSc Health Psychology.
I have had the opportunity to work in various roles within the health sector, as a councillor, teaching assistant, support worker and eventually completed a minimum of 767 hours in practice for Foundations of Nursing Care.
Being of African descent means I have been able to understand mental health and certain stigmas that are associated with this on a personal and professional level. My personal interest for my culture and personal experiences ignited my passion to research mental health in Ghana in relation to the community and attached stigmas.
The World Health Organization (WHO) statically projects how prevalent the issue of mental health in Ghana currently is and their ongoing efforts being made to address the current epidemic.
Psychology is a subject that can be applied in many aspects of life in many different countries. In hindsight. I was able to carry out voluntary work experience in Accra, Ghana working alongside a clinical psychologist and the multidisciplinary team in a community hospital.
One of the few individuals I was able to work with, were women who were suffering from mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety as a result of abortion and domestic abuse. as well as many other clinical community issues.
This was an unforgettable experience and I was able to learn from the seniors around me: doctors, psychologists, counsellors and nurses. I was able to build working relationships as well as build client-patient relationships. As I was in another country I had to a be aware of my cultural surroundings and many of the issues that were prevalent in Ghana were different to the issues prevalent within the UK.
Being of Ghanaian descent meant I was able to relate with the clients on a familiar level by using my ability to speak and understand my mother tongues (Twi and Ga). With this I felt I was able to make a difference and understand psychology in relation to my roots.
My research, work experience and personal passion comes from my cultural background and my passion for mental health, the combination has birthed my future endeavours to improve mental health in Ghana and seek to bring more mental health awareness to the Ghanaian community.
Charlotte Opare did BSc in Health Psychology from the University of Bedfordshire. She works for the UK government.