‘Mad’ Experience: The playful inmates at Shekinah Hospital

Zubaida Ismail with the master entertainer Nndo
Zubaida Ismail with the master entertainer Nndo

Experts have argued that love, affection, and care if accorded mentally challenged persons could increase the recovery rate rapidly but how far can you go with a mentally ill relative, friend, or neighbour owing to their hostility sometimes.

In this report, TV3’s Northern Regional Correspondent Zubaida Ismail spends time with some mentally ill persons at the Shekinah Hospital in Tamale in the Northern Region.

Known as the mad hospital, the Shekinah hospital located in Gurugu a suburb of Tamale for the past years serve as the safe haven for some mentally challenged persons within the region.

The health facility, is a center established in March, 1996 by late Dr David Abdulai, to provide free health care to the vulnerable and destitute in society, but decided to care for the mentally challenged in the absence of a psychiatric hospital.

The facility within the past years taken care of between 15 to 30 mentally challenged persons who walk into the facility willingly after  being rejected by their kinsmen.

Some inmates spend few days at the facility and leave without coming back but the majority over the years have remained in the facility under the care of the late Dr. Abduali affectionately called ‘mad doctor’, his wife Mariam Abdulai, and staff after finding safety there.

Here, inmates have single rooms to themselves, whiles some keep their rooms tidied up, others do not.

Perhaps,  this is the only facility where one would find inmates who do not just sit to watch visitors but also come that close to give them whatever they have in their hands that moment.

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Yes, you heard me right, at the arrival of any visitor at the mental wing of the hospital,  visitors are welcomed by the ever playful Sakinah.

Her way of welcoming people has endeared her to many who give her few coins in return.

Sakinah, has been living in the facility for over five years. She briefly left the facility when the owner died in October, 2016.

Zubaida Ismail with Sakinah having a friendly chat
Zubaida Ismail with Sakinah having a friendly chat

The rapper in the house Nndo also known as “hihu” is available to thrill visitors with good raps. One is not able to grasp the words uttered in his raps but can clearly see a happy person.

And of course, the center equally has inmates who do not seem perturbed by the trooping in and out of patients and visitors.

All they do is to sit at the various corners of the facility minding their own business, but one thing is assured that whether in a playful state or isolated state, the inmates do not attack their visitors.

TV3 news team was told in mates here are not on medication, the only moment medication is administered is when they exhibit signs of aggressiveness.

“They are not dangerous, they only become aggressive when they feel threatened but when they get the care, they are calm. We have lived with some for over five years and we’re yet to see them attacking anyone”, the Administrator of the hospital Mrs Mariam Abdulai, revealed.

In her response to the magical moment dealing with the mentally challenged persons, the Administrator again said, “one day when Sule (an inmate) said he wanted a wife, I pointed at one of our workers to ask if he was interested he said yes and believe me, he asks how his wife is doing each morning”.

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akawsi Osei wants relatives to accept the mentally challenged persons especially when they begin the recovery therapy. He encourages relatives to shun away from identifying them with the illness.

“Accept them with warmth, and love when they return from the psychiatric hospital, that love you show them will enable them to remain well but they come back and the least thing you’re provoking them, he laughs, he’s sad and you say his illness has come back, that will actually precipitate a relapse”.

He also cautioned relatives of the mentally challenged persons against chaining them especially at the prayer camps, he indicated that not only the owners of the prayer camps will be arrested when found but also the relatives who sent the patient to the camp.
By Zubaida Ismail | 3news.com