By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
The World Health Organization estimates that in Ghana 650,000 people are suffering from a severe mental disorder and over 2 million people are being afflicted by a moderate to mild mental disorder.
Because of stigmas and a scarcity of psychiatrists, the West African country faces a mental health treatment gap of 98%, meaning that only 2% of the population is receiving the care they require.
Arizonan entrepreneur Johnwick Nathan is trying to close this gap. His company Harbor Health Integrated Care started out as a recovery home but as revenue grew the business expanded to providing primary care services and counseling services, including group therapy, individual therapy, psychiatric therapy and medication therapy.
Now, Nathan is bringing his services to Ghana. This summer, he journeyed to the country to acquire information about the state of mental health in the population. After talking to the mental health directors and community members, Nathan ascertained that no one had a sufficient solution to the mental health problems in the country.
“You cannot support a person by putting them in somewhere and not having a continuation of care,’’ said Nathan. “You’re practically putting a bandaid on their problems, and then sending them back out to the world. Once they get back to where they were, they go right back.”
While there, he became acquainted with the Ga-Adangbe tribe. The community bestowed the title of Nii Borlabi Tesaa I on Nathan, making him royalty in the tribe. The designation signifies the tribe’s respect and admiration for Nathan, as well as praises his commitment to supporting the community.
In Ghana, Nathan has renovated the roof of the largest hospital in the country and is in the process of building a general healthcare clinic in Nangua. He also intends to eventually open up a Harbor Health Integrated Care there.
“My initial goal was focused on mental health. Now, I have to focus on people,” said Nathan.
In the future, he plans to establish a foundation in Ghana that will foster a new economic system. Nathan was given land to start a farm, which will service a market run by Ghanaian citizens and subsequently sell the produce and grain back to the community. He then wants to open a small bank, which will provide financial literacy education.
Throughout his endeavors, the biggest challenge he faced stemmed from his age. The entrepreneur is 27, and many people have questioned his credentials. Nathan advised that other young entrepreneurs who face this same problem ignore the doubters.
“If you can find a need, you can find success within that because where people find their needs met, financial benefit and support follows,” said Nathan.
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