The mental health volunteer in Ghana placement is designed to provide an insight into how psychiatric services operate within Ghana. PMGY’s Ghana volunteer programs provide a once in a lifetime cultural experience. The mental health and psychology program provides international volunteers with a unique learning experience. Most noteworthy, participants will establish a deeper understanding of the history and developments of mental healthcare in Ghana.
MENTAL HEALTH VOLUNTEER PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS THE UN'S SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL NO.3 - HEALTH
GAIN EXPOSURE TO HEALTH TREATMENT & FACILITIES ACROSS 2 HOSPITAL SETTINGS
SHADOW PSYCHIATRIC DOCTORS & NURSES ON COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMS
STRUCTURED WEEKEND TRIPS TO CAPE COAST & MOLE NATIONAL PARK
EMBRACE GHANAIAN CULTURE WITH DRUMMING & DANCING EVENING ACTIVITIES
BACKGROUND TO THE MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM
Ghana’s mental health sector is funded primarily by the government. Its psychiatric services stem back to the early 19th century. Traditionally, patients who suffered from mental health illnesses would be detained in prisons. These prisons later developed into a ‘lunatic asylum’.
1904 saw the first purposeful psychiatric hospital built in Ghana accommodating 200 patients to start with. Extensive amendments focussed on mental health were made to hospital buildings to burden overcrowding. Rapid expansions in staff training and recruitment for mental health followed.
From the 1950s innovative treatments for psychiatric illnesses such as ‘chlorpromazine’ and ‘electroconvulsive’ therapy began to emerge more prevalently. Patients were removed from chains and isolation between patients became discouraged. Staff were now refrained from punishing patients as previously had been a norm.
Essentially, knowledge and understanding began to increase in and around mental health and the issues associated with it. Despite such advances, many citizens in Ghana still believed and practised in the traditional forms of psychiatric treatment.
Many patients or their relatives would still opt for a traditional or herbal form of treatment. This is due to a widely held belief that mental health illnesses remain caused by supernatural evil forces. Such forces are best exiled by traditional medicine methods. Examples include visiting shrines, herbalist centres or prayer camps. Methods that would be relatively more accessible and inexpensive.
Nevertheless, government policy in the long term remains to establish and expand psychiatric facilities in all regional and district hospitals. The 1970s saw the creation of registered mental nurses (RMNs) and community psychiatric nurses (CPNs). This program expanded into Kumasi in the 1990s.
To summarise, recent government policy has attempted to normalise, ingrain and mainstream up to date psychiatric services into the primary healthcare. However, the reality is a lot more needs to be done to achieve this even today. With a population of over 26 million, Ghana only has 13 practising psychiatrists in the public service. Inadequate staffing remains a recurrent problem with occupational therapists, social workers and CPNs all hard to come by.
Traditional healers who can bring with them inhumane treatment methods remain prevalent in Ghana today. It is estimated that around 2.5 million people in Ghana currently suffer from some form of mental health illness. Public education plays a leading role today in helping to overcome widely held traditional myths about mental illnesses. Consequently, patients and relatives are encouraged to seek early professional and alternative treatment.
Such alternative treatments focus on areas such as occupational therapies and community outreach programs. As a mental health volunteer in Ghana, you will usually get the chance to experience this. In addition to this, a mental health act passed in 2012 aims to combat the stigma and discrimination associated with mentally ill people in Ghana.
Should mental health volunteers in Ghana wish to consider alternative or additional projects, our mental health volunteering abroad project in Sri Lanka is recognised as our leading mental health volunteer opportunity. For the reason that volunteers receive greater exposure and involvement across a range of placement and project settings.
MENTAL HEALTH VOLUNTEER PLACEMENT EXAMPLES
Manhyia Government Hospital - All participants on the Mental Health Experience in Ghana will spend their first week within the Manhyia hospital. The psychiatric department consists of only two rooms and five physiatric nurses. The responsibilities of these staff members lie in diagnosis, prescribing and consulting.
Volunteers will have an opportunity to observe consultations and ward rounds for patients being treated elsewhere within the hospital. Common conditions witnessed by the staff include depression, mania, psychosis, enuresis, migraine, epilepsy, bipolar, alcoholism, dementia and delirium.
Tafo Government Hospital - Our participants spend their remaining time-based at the Tafo District at the Tafo Government Hospital. The Physiatric department of Tafo Government Hospital first emerged in 1970. However, almost 50 years later, the department still does not have a permanent location within the institution. This follows a lack of recognition of the importance of the services by leading bodies of the hospital. The team of 14 members are therefore frequently shifted between available rooms.
The team offers three main services. Such services being consultation, community outreach programs and the provision of education to patients with mental health disorders. With these services, the department has three main goals.
First of all, to make mental health services accessible within the community. Secondly, to educate the general public about the prevalence of mental health disorders and avoid stigmas. Finally, to have a permanent location for offering mental health services.
The department will often see between 60-70 patients per day. On the first day, participants will receive an orientation from the staff, introducing them to the services offered by the hospital. For the remainder of their time, volunteers will shadow a member of the team. This will include observing consultations, clinical reviews and perhaps even outreach programs.
Healthcare professionals in Ghana are very friendly and willing to support international volunteers. They are always on hand to answer your questions and describe consultations clinically. Furthermore, the local staff usually speak very good English to combat any language barrier.
Volunteers on this mental health volunteering abroad project will have the opportunity to spend time aiding the local staff. This may include assessing patient records, evaluating signs of progress, measuring any diagnoses and prescribing any relevant medicines. The doctor will talk through the different ways in which they take care of patients suffering from mental health issues.
Community Outreach - Part of the mental health volunteer in Ghana experience will see you embark on community outreach programs. These programs are led by psychiatric qualified nurses of Tafo Hospital. Such outreach work can include education talks in local schools as well as reaching out directly to people in the community. Such people who are suffering from psychiatric issues, but do not come to the hospital.
Community outreach work may also involve the performance of home visits. More specifically, visiting patients who had been to the hospital and checking up on their wellbeing. Please note, the outreach program usually runs on an ad-hoc basis. As such, it is not guaranteed during your volunteer work in Ghana. Various factors can influence this, including the number of patients at the time and local staff availability.
YOUR VOLUNTEER ROLE & TYPICAL WORK DAY
This project is designed to provide insight into mental health issues for those currently studying mental health or psychology. More specifically, it provides a platform to increase awareness and learning around psychiatric services in Ghana. This extends to developing an understanding of the history and developments of mental health in Ghana.
Transport to and from the mental health project is not included in your Program Fee. Consequently, volunteers in Ghana will usually split the cost of a taxi. Our local team will show you how to get to and from your volunteer project location during the orientation period.
Most noteworthy, heavy traffic and poor road infrastructure can be commonplace within Kumasi. Subsequently, the journey to the volunteer project can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour upwards from the Volunteer House.
Hands-On Involvement - Please note this program has been specially designed for those already studying or exploring further study in psychology/mental health. Therefore it may not be appropriate or applicable for those outside this. This volunteer program provides a platform to gain insight and awareness into mental health in a new culture.
As a mental health volunteer in Ghana, your level of involvement at the project is dictated by a range of factors. First of all your medical experience (if any), duration of your program and willingness to get involved. The medical staff are accountable for you whilst you’re under their supervision, so it is completely up to them if you are permitted and want to get involved in hands-on procedures.
Generally speaking those with little or no medical experience assume a largely observational role. If you are studying a mental health-related degree, then you may have more opportunity to undertake some more basic hands-on involvement. However, to reiterate we can never guarantee or endorse hands-on experience should you choose to get hands-on, as the decision ultimately lies with the medical staff and their patients.
Trained Professionals - Please note this program is not suitable for trained professionals who are looking to practise overseas. This opportunity is only suitable for students looking to go into the mental health or psychology field and wish to learn about a healthcare system overseas.
Weekends - Your project work in Ghana runs from Monday-Friday and weekends are free. You are welcome to relax and hang out at the volunteer accommodation but most participants will use this time to travel and explore the country. As a result, you can check out our Ghana Weekend Travel Guide for top tips on how to spend your weekend. We also run two separate weekend trips which you can sign-up to before you depart for Ghana. We offer the Cape Coast & Busua Surf Trip along with the Mole National Park Trip with opportunities running every month.
CHOOSING A VOLUNTEER TRIP
Can people from outside of the UK or USA volunteer with PMGY?
Of course! Although PMGY was founded in the UK, with offices now extending between the UK and US, we welcome participants of all nationalities onto our programs. Within the last decade, we have hosted tens of thousands of volunteers from across the globe. From France to Italy, Mexico to India, Namibia to Russia and Ireland to China – these are only a handful of the countries volunteers have joined us from! We want everyone from across the world to have an equal opportunity at experiencing a different perspective on life, and make friends across the world.
Why are PMGY’s fees so much more affordable than other organisations?
The PMGY International Team works hard to ensure that our fees are kept as low as possible. Consequently, this makes our experiences affordable and accessible without sacrificing the safety and quality of the overall experience.
Registration Fees to join our programs are assigned to the high levels of comprehensive support that we are renowned for. This includes telephone and online support staff available 24 hours each day, as well as detailed hand-guides and interactive webinars. Therefore, the remaining Program Fees to join the program go directly to our in-country teams, covering everything for your time volunteering. In general, these fees are reflected in your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, in-country support and project upkeep during your time abroad. Furthermore, we make sure our fees are transparent, which is something our volunteers really appreciate.
Similar organisations offer fancy brochures, run large high-street offices and are usually owned by larger travel organisations with many shareholders. As a result, participants are charged an extremely high price to cover all of these overheads. Therefore, at PMGY, we have embraced the online age by focusing everything around an online presence. We have done away with out-dated brochures, an unnecessary high street presence and we are an independent organisation without any outside financial interests.
What are the requirements to volunteer in Ghana?
PMGY welcomes mental health volunteers in Ghana of all nationalities, religions and backgrounds. The minimum age to join the program is 18 and there is no upper age limit. Furthermore, all volunteers need to have a good level of English, although it does not need to be your first language. Of course, you do not need to speak the local dialect. However, you will find that learning a few words in your days with us in Ghana will go a long way.
As a mental health volunteer in Ghana, you must be able to provide a clean criminal background check in advance of volunteering with us abroad. Thus, we are unable to accept anyone who has any previous criminal convictions. In general, no formal experience or qualifications are required for the projects, just lots of energy, enthusiasm and preparation! However, medical and healthcare projects usually require additional documentation before participation begins in-country.
Volunteering overseas can be both physically and mentally challenging. Therefore, all participants must be fit in both areas. Consequently, if you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas, then these must be declared to us during your online application. If you have any queries regarding your suitability to participate, we recommend that you contact us before committing to the program.
What date should I arrive and leave the Ghana volunteer program?
For your volunteer trip to Ghana, you should book your flights to Kotoka International Airport in Accra on the Sunday start date. The airport code is ACC. You will be met at the airport by a member of the local team or an appointed driver, who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The program ends on the Sunday of your final week. Therefore, you must depart the accommodation on this day.
When is the best time of year to volunteer in Ghana?
Feedback from mental health volunteers in Ghana often suggests that it is best to join a PMGY project outside the European summer months. This is since June-August tends to be when we have peak numbers at each of our projects and volunteer accommodations. Conversely, outside of these months, there is typically the greatest opportunity to become fully immersed in the project and within the local community.
Are there any age restrictions to be a volunteer in Ghana?
In order to join as a mental health volunteer in Ghana, you need to be at least 18 on the program start date. Generally, the average age range of volunteers is 17-25.
There is no upper age limit to our programs, and in the past, we have hosted participants up to the age of 70-years old. Whilst we have found that our more mature participants get a lot from the experience, at times individuals have found it more challenging to integrate with a younger crowd. Furthermore, some participants have perhaps expected a higher level of accommodation, the structure within the local community, and general overall communication at the project setup. Consequently, whilst we welcome volunteers of all ages, we stress that all participants should remain open-minded and flexible. Additionally, participants must appreciate that the majority of our participants are across the 17-25 age range.
When should I apply to be a mental health volunteer in Ghana?
For the majority of our programs, you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the program. This is since some of our programs only have limited capacity, meaning that spaces get filled very quickly. Therefore, it is particularly important that you apply in good time if you’re looking to travel between our peak period of June and August. This is because spaces can fill up very quickly during this period. Furthermore, please only apply if you are 100% committed to joining the program. You need to apply online by locating the “Apply Now” button on the individual project page. This will guide you through our online Application Process.
Indeed, once you have applied and confirmed your place on the program, it may be possible to change your start dates and this will not incur a fee. However, please note that this will be subject to availability and any changes should be made at least 45 days prior to your start date.
What duration would you recommend to volunteering for?
Based on feedback from previous mental health volunteers in Ghana, we believe that 4-6 weeks is the ideal amount of time to volunteer in Ghana. Consequently, this means you have enough time to integrate into the local community and really get involved in a project. For one thing, you will be able to make a positive impact on community development. Additionally, you will have a greater opportunity to explore during your weekends. Mental health volunteers in Ghana who join us for 2 weeks frequently tell us that this was long enough and wish they had stayed for longer!
For those looking to potentially join us for a longer period, we recommend checking out our Encounter Programs that offer a 2-4 week stay across 3-10 destinations.
Can I volunteer abroad with my friend/parent/boyfriend/girlfriend?
You’re more than welcome to travel and volunteer with friends, family members or with a boyfriend/girlfriend. If required, we can make sure that you stay in the same accommodation and volunteer for the same project. However, please note the majority of our volunteer accommodation is on a single-sex basis. Consequently, we cannot guarantee that you would be able to be placed in the same room.
Please outline in the ‘Special Requirements’ box of your online application if you’d like to make sure you’re placed alongside another applicant/s.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we work hard to ensure that our host locations are safe. Firstly, volunteer safety in each of our destinations is monitored regularly. Each of our volunteer programs has been inspected by a member of the PMGY International Team. Additionally, PMGY closely follows advice published by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Alongside the frequent contact we have with our local teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable or unsafe regions.
The PMGY International Team have visited and participated in every program we offer. Thus, we have carefully inspected every little detail of our set-up, from the living conditions to local neighbourhoods and even the food you’ll be eating. Through these checks, we are able to ensure that all of our projects are up to scratch. Furthermore, all of our local teams are experienced development professionals, with years of experience hosting international volunteers. They are PMGY’s representatives on the ground and assist volunteers 24/7 throughout their stay. Our teams are therefore always on-hand to assist in any emergencies that may occur. Additionally, our 24 hour international emergency telephone line is always accessible. PMGY’s in-country staff also have access to local medical professionals should these be required during a participant’s time with us.
When you join as a mental health volunteer in Ghana, we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visas and dress codes. For any unanswered or specific questions, PMGY offers a comprehensive support network, with online and telephone support staff available 24 hours each day. Our advisers welcome participants to ask as many questions as needed for them to effectively prepare for their trip overseas. On a monthly basis, our International Team also hosts both an Introductory Webinar and Safety Webinar. These are interactive opportunities for international volunteers to learn more about our projects and managing their safety overseas.
When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive introduction to the general volunteer program and your specific project. During this session, our team will also cover important safety advice specific to your country. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM-card. This is something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. In like manner, we will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.
Although we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble-free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each program is as safe as possible.
When do I pay for my volunteer program? Can I pay in instalments?
In order to confirm your place as a mental health volunteer in Ghana, you need to pay a deposit of 249 USD. The remaining fee is then due no less than 45 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge. If you’re applying within 45 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.
Payments made in advance of the 45 day window can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 4% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur. Bank transfers can be accepted by UK participants only.
Can I use the program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to be a mental health volunteer in Ghana as part of your university or college placement. However, PMGY is unable to guarantee that your time as a mental health volunteer in Ghana will fulfil the requirements of your establishment. Therefore, participants are encouraged to speak to a member of the International Team to establish whether the required parameters can be met. This should be done in advance of applying to the program. When appropriate, school/college/university representatives are welcome to contact PMGY to discuss further the suitability of the program in meeting the participant’s requirements. In addition, we can arrange international school trips to Ghana.
First of all, the PMGY International Team are able to complete paperwork after a mental health volunteer in Ghana has confirmed their place on the program. Additionally, project staff in Ghana can also sign-off any paperwork that is required by your course tutors. However, while our team will do their best to complete any paperwork, we are unable to guarantee that we will be able to comply with every learning objective and requirement or your university/college. PMGY regularly receives medical, nursing, childcare and psychology placement students on our projects globally, with ties with some leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programs could meet the placement requirements for your course, please contact us directly to schedule a meeting.
BEFORE YOU DEPART
Can I fundraise for my volunteer trip?
With PMGY, the money our volunteers pay goes towards the structure you receive on the Ghana volunteer program. The fundamentals of this cover aspects such as accommodation, airport pick-ups, around the clock support from our international and in-country teams, pre-departure training as well as the implementation and monitoring of the projects.
We do our best to keep our program costs as low and affordable as possible, without sacrificing quality and safety. However, with flights, travel insurance and spending money to factor into your overall budget, you may find you need a little bit of help with the finances. Consequently, a large number of PMGY volunteers decide to fundraise for their trip. In these instances, we recommend that mental health volunteers in Ghana set up an online fundraising page to notify friends and family of your trip.
PMGY have partnered with the online crowdfunding website GoGetFunding for volunteers to create a personalised fundraising page for their trip. This professional online fundraising service allows you to set financial goals and get the message across about what you’re doing. You can also share your PMGY fundraising page across various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.
Can I raise money for the projects?
The PMGY Foundation is a UK registered charity (1169415). This charity has been created to help provide financial aid and assistance to projects we work with on an ongoing basis. Importantly, the objective of the PMGY Foundation is the prevention or relief of poverty for people living in the communities we support. This is achieved by providing or assisting the provision of education, training, healthcare and general living support. Therefore together, we hope that the support offered by the PMGY Foundation helps to enable individuals to generate a sustainable income and be self-sufficient. Consequently, donations made to the PMGY Foundation will be directed to the projects most in need. This is determined by the trustees of the charity during our International Team overseas visits.
If you are looking to help raise money directly for the PMGY Foundation, you can do so via our Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. 100% of all money raised will be donated directly to the projects we support around the world. However, please note that participants are unable to raise money through the PMGY Foundation to help finance the cost of their trip overseas. For mental health volunteers in Ghana looking for further information on how to raise money for their trip abroad, please visit our fundraising page.
How do I register for your online webinars?
Every Tuesday at 4pm (London time), the PMGY International Team hosts one of four pre-departure webinars. These last approximately 45 minutes each and importantly provide volunteers in Ghana with invaluable advice on their upcoming trip. The webinars are hosted by a member of our International Team, who all have extensive knowledge of our projects around the globe. You can attend (and even ask questions) from anywhere in the world, simply by logging in through your own computer. All you need is a computer, a good internet connection and a pair of headphones. In addition to this, if any family or friends would like to attend the session as well, they are more than welcome to do so.
For individuals who have not yet signed up to one of our programs, but would like to learn more about us, we encourage you to join our Introductory Webinar. Across 45 minutes, a member of the International team will introduce you to the concept of volunteering abroad, our destinations and both social and safety aspects of our programs.
For mental health volunteers in Ghana who have already confirmed their volunteering role on the program, there are three for you to choose from. Please note that you need to sign up for the webinar a few days in advance.
Travel Essentials Pre-Departure Webinar – covers all the basics.
Program Preparation Webinar – covers specifically childcare and teaching community work programs.
Safety & Wellbeing Overseas Webinar – covers the risks associated with overseas travel and how you can keep as safe as possible.
Will I require vaccinations and malaria tablets for my volunteer work?
It is possible that as a mental health volunteer in Ghana you may require a course of vaccinations in preparation for your volunteer work in Ghana. However, unfortunately, PMGY is unable to legally advise on these matters, since we are not medical experts. Therefore, it is vital that you contact your local doctor or travel clinic a few months in advance of your intended travel. Your local doctor/nurse will be able to advise you on vaccinations and malaria prevention you may need for entry into your volunteer destination. Additional information can be found on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights to volunteer in Ghana?
When you apply to be a mental health volunteer in Ghana, we cannot guarantee your place on the program immediately. Indeed, on receiving an application, we have to liaise with our local team to ensure there is space available on the program and to assess your suitability for the specific project. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not make any flight and/or travel arrangements until your program has been confirmed by us in writing. Of course, once your place as a mental health volunteer in Ghana has been confirmed, you are then free to book your flights either with PMGY or through a third-party travel agent.
After confirming your place on a PMGY volunteer program, we strongly advise that you book your flights as early as possible. This is since it will help ensure that you get the lowest airfare. You can choose to book your flights independently or we can help you with arranging them. PMGY has a wealth of experience in travelling to and from our host countries. Therefore, we know the most affordable ways to travel and the best airlines to use. Therefore, if you would like any assistance booking your flight, you can request an optional flight quote during your online application. Alternatively, feel free to contact us on the phone or by email.
Do you offer travel insurance?
Importantly, having an appropriate travel insurance policy during your time abroad is essential. Therefore, it is mandatory for all of our international volunteers to be appropriately covered across all of their trip dates. This includes your travel to and from the host country, as well as any onward travel. Although PMGY does everything to ensure your trip is safe, inevitably things can go wrong. Therefore, having a travel insurance policy in place helps you effectively deal with any problems you may encounter during your time away.
We have partnered up with the insurance company Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive optional policy. This has been designed with our international volunteers in mind, to cover our participants for all of their travel essentials. The policy is available to anyone across the globe, up to the age of 65 years. The document will cover you for your time on any PMGY destination and any onward travel (excluding the US and Canada). You can purchase PMGY Travel Insurance during your online application or you can contact us directly to arrange it.
How do I obtain a background check?
To become a mental health volunteer in Ghana, you’ll need to provide us with a clean DBS or Police Check before you travel. This is a check that must be issued by an official Governmental or Police Body. PMGY have a commitment to the projects we support to ensure the volunteers we send are trustworthy and of sound moral character. Consequently, we are unable to accept participants who have had any previous criminal convictions.
If you hold a current DBS or Police Check, then we can accept this, providing it is clear and issued no more than 18 months prior to your program start date. You will need to upload a copy of this to your online portal after confirming your place on the program. Furthermore, the DBS or Police Check must be submitted to us no less than 21 days prior to your program start date.
If you don’t have a valid DBS check, then you will need to apply for one. UK volunteers need to apply for a “Basic Disclosure” through Gov.uk (which serves all people in the UK). This costs 23 GBP and takes around 15 working days to process. Full information on how to obtain a DBS check through Gov.uk is outlined in the Volunteer Handbook, received once you have confirmed your place as a mental health volunteer in Ghana.
For mental health volunteers in Ghana from the US, you can apply for a background check through US Criminal Checks. It costs 17.95 USD and is usually processed immediately. Alternatively, you are welcome to arrange your own background check through your local Sheriff’s Office or governmental body.
For all other international participants, we recommend you obtain a Police/Criminal Background Check through your local police station or official governmental body.
When will I receive my Volunteer Handbook?
All volunteers in Ghana will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the program. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we do not send a hard copy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains everything you need to know to prepare as a mental health volunteer in Ghana. Ranging from what to pack to how to obtain a visa, we do our best to ensure you are ready to hit the ground running. Therefore, it is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you find any of your questions unanswered after reading through this, then our team are always on hand to assist you. You can contact us via email, telephone, Zoom, Facebook, online chat…whatever works best for you!
ON YOUR TRIP
Can I arrange a private room?
All of our accommodation options on the Ghana volunteer program involve sharing a room with other participants (usually same-sex). Unfortunately, we are unable to arrange private room options for our mental health volunteers in Ghana.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
Our teams will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, this cannot be guaranteed as a mental health volunteer in Ghana. Consequently, there may be instances where you need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Importantly, any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the program.
Are there any public holidays that affect project availability?
We aim to communicate as clearly and accurately as possible all holidays that impact project availability. This information can be found via our Holiday Dates page and in the Volunteer Handbook. However, due to the nature of developing countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change. In turn, these can unexpectedly affect project availability. Therefore in such instances, we ask our volunteers to be flexible and appreciative of this. These periods often provide volunteers in Ghana with a unique experience to enjoy the festivities and holidays themselves. However, our local teams will always do their best to find alternative project work if applicable/possible.
What is the dress code at the projects?
Dress code varies from country-to-country and sometimes from project-to-project. Importantly, we ask that our volunteers adopt a smart and responsible image during their time in the communities. Of course, we will outline the specific dress code requirements in your Volunteer Handbook so you know exactly what to pack. In addition to this, our local team will also brief you during your in-country orientation on arrival in Ghana.
The general rule of thumb for girls is to cover shoulders, chest, stomach and thighs. In a like matter, for men, shorts should not lie above the knee and shirts should cover shoulders. Whilst we do not wish to impose strict regulations on our volunteers, we do ask that you respect the local culture during your travels. Moreover, dressing appropriately will earn you the respect of the people you’ll be working with. Therefore, our Volunteer Handbooks, outline preferred dress-codes in detail.
Additionally, it’s also a good idea to take some nicer clothes for the weekends and special occasions. However, please avoid tight and very short clothing. You should also avoid clothing that may have potentially offensive slogans on it. Tattoos and piercings should be covered where possible whilst you’re at your placement, particularly if you’re working with children.
How much spending money will I need?
The amount of extra spending money you should take with you as a mental health volunteer in Ghana can depend on a multitude of factors. Considerations include what you undertake during your free time and how many souvenirs you purchase! Therefore, if you plan to go for a safari in Tanzania or perhaps go trekking in South Africa, you will need to budget accordingly. However, for general expenses and some independent travel, you should find 100-150 USD per week a suitable amount.
Will I be able to travel whilst on the program?
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel during your time with PMGY. In fact, we encourage you to travel during your free time! Most of our programs have been designed so that you have weekends off. Therefore, this gives you the opportunity to explore the local area or even travel further afield within your host country. Our local coordinators will provide you with all the weekend opportunities and travel tips you need to help you plan any independent adventures. During your time as a mental health volunteer in Ghana, you are sure to make some travel buddies along the way!
Before booking your flights, we recommend that you look into travel opportunities across dates on either side of your volunteering placement. It is always great to spend some time travelling and seeing more of the country you wish to volunteer in. However, if you plan to travel extensively, please factor this into your flight itinerary. This is since we only encourage travel during weekends while you’re volunteering, as you have made a commitment as a mental health volunteer in Ghana.
Your first night in Ghana will be spent at a hotel near Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Our partner hotel offers basic but comfortable accommodation. You will share a room with fellow volunteers. In addition, as it is a dorm based setup you may be sharing with other international travellers. Rooms are air-conditioned and a local team coordinator will also stay at the hotel. As a result, you will have 24/7 support if needed. Furthermore, the team member will travel with you to Kumasi the following day.
During your time on the Ghana volunteer programs, you will live in our Volunteer House. This is located in a friendly neighbourhood, a 45 minute drive from Kumasi city centre. You will find restaurants, convenience stores and ATMs in the centre of the town. However, there is also a small shop opposite the Volunteer House. The local community are extremely friendly!
The Volunteer House is basic but comfortable. Each room has bunk beds with up to 10 people in same-sex rooms. Volunteers are provided with fans in the room. In addition, each international volunteer is provided with their own mosquito net and bed linen. Bathrooms are shared and each has a shower and western style toilet. The water is cold but this shouldn’t be a problem as Ghana is hot all-year-round!
Each volunteer will also be provided with a locker for storing small valuables and important items. Living in the Volunteer House offers a great social experience! The house has a communal area for volunteers to hang out in after completing volunteer work in Ghana. A lounge, TV and DVD Player are all to be enjoyed. Furthermore, there is an outside seating area for volunteers to relax in during their free time.
Wi-Fi is not available at the accommodation. However, our local team provide all participants with a free local SIM card. As a result, volunteers can purchase a data package that is reliable, cheap and allows for good internet access. A 4G data package costs approximately 10 Cedis for usage across Ghana. Please make sure your phone is unlocked before arriving in Ghana.
We also have a refrigerator where you can store your personal food items, however, please remember this is dependent on electricity. For the reason that, power cuts can be a frequent occurrence in Ghana! Clothes can be hand-washed or there are local laundry services nearby the Volunteer House. A member of our local team will also live at the house. The house is gated and secure and our local coordinator lives on-site ensuring you have around the clock support and security.
Please note that power cuts and water shortages are very common in Ghana. Whilst we have backup measures to combat this, there may be times where the power cuts out or there is no water for a while. It's important to be aware of this in advance and be able to adapt accordingly.
During our busiest months (June to September) on the volunteer in Ghana program, you may be placed at alternative accommodation. For instance, you could be placed in a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
During your volunteer trip to Ghana, volunteers will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and dinner are served at the Volunteer House. Conversely, lunch will be provided in a packed lunch format. Packet filtered water is also available at the Volunteer House for volunteers.
Please note most meals will incorporate lots of carbs. Subsequently, do not expect much dairy or meat and please be open-minded around this! Moreover, it may take a few days for your body to get accustomed to the local food.
Pork, lamb and beef are difficult to source in Ghana and usually quite expensive. The main meats are chicken, fish and goat. There is also a real lack of fresh dairy products. Therefore, volunteers in Ghana should be prepared to live without milk and cheese. Most milk is tinned.
There are a number of western restaurants around a 45 minute drive from the accommodation. Therefore, home comforts are not too far away. Similarly, there are Chinese and Indian restaurants in Kumasi. Our local team will tell you about the options available to you during your in-country orientation.
* Please note our local team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, there may be instances where you may need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Most importantly, any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the volunteer program.
* These fees apply to each individual application.
In order to apply to join PMGY you are required to make your Registration Fee payment of 249 USD. In the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your Registration Fee will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying. The remaining fee is then due no less than 45 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge.
If you’re applying within 45 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.
Any remaining payments must be made no less than 45 days prior to your start date. This payment can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. If you chose to take our insurance or book a flight with PMGY then these must be paid for (in full) at the time of booking.
Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 5% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur.
OPTIONAL TRIPLE CARBON OFFSET SCHEME - 40 USD
PMGY provide participants with the opportunity to contribute towards our Triple Carbon Offset Scheme. This not only helps eliminate your carbon footprint but helps the planet with a positive contribution every time you fly. The Triple Offset Idea for volunteers in Ghana works as follows -
🇰🇪 Kenya - 28 mango trees are planted in Kenya. These are capable of absorbing the total carbon emissions for a volunteer trip to Ghana and also help provide a sustainable income for local farmers.
🇮🇳 India - 80 days of access to a solar cooker are provided to a family in India. This means the family don't have to spend on firewood and thus reduce their dependence on trees.
🇺🇸 USA - 1.25kg of rescued meals are provided to the homeless in the USA. This recycles wasted food reduces methane emission from food waste which is equivalent to 1lb of CO2 emissions.
This optional add-on can be added during the online application process or can even be added on at a later date. The offset platform is provided by our charity, the PMGY Foundation and ensures that 100% of contributions are put towards high impact projects around the world.