One of the victims rescued by the Mental Health Authority[/caption] A total of 16 mentally deranged persons who were chained to trees for years and forced to fast to fast with no or little medical attention have been rescued. Some the victims have been at the unnamed prayer camp at Nyankumasi Ahenkro in the Assin South District of the Central Region for 17 years, most of which time they are chained. They told TV3 they have for years suffered bites from insects and reptiles including snakes and scorpions, noting they remained helpless under unfavourable weather due to their movement restrictions. They were rescued in a special operation by the Ghana Mental Health Authority led by the Chief Psychiatrist Dr Akwasi Osei. The operation formed part of a nationwide campaign dubbed “a ban on chaining and shackles” of persons with mental disorders. [caption id="attachment_56010" align="aligncenter" width="567"] The chain of one of the victims being cut to free him[/caption] The victims were sent to the camp by their relatives who believe the mental ailment was the result of evil spirits hence the need for religious intervention to heal them. They are have since been sent to the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital for medical attention. Dr Osei warned Ghanaians to desist from making traditional and faith-based healers their first point of call noting they will end up being abused by these healers. He underscored the need for government to immediately take steps to resource psychiatric facilities to provide better healthcare delivery to help reduce the level of abuse of patients under the hands of traditional and faith-based healers. Traditional and faith-based camps have been the first option for most people who suffer mental ailment as their relatives and these healers believe the ailment is spiritual in nature. Ghana’s constitution frowns on such ill-treatments of persons with mental ailment, and in line with the Mental Health Act, the Mental Authority has started an operation to stop the practice of putting patients in chains for years.