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Addressing issues of mental health disorder in Nigeria


By Vera Sam Anyagafu

Following weeks of critical observations, it is sad to conclude that a huge percentage of the Nigerian population is believed to be suffering from mental disorder.

Putting into consideration, the current economic situation in the country, one may not be totally wrong to attribute greater amount of this astonishing percentage of mental disorders, to unavoidably economic burdens in the country.

Addressing issues of mental health disorder in Nigeria
Addressing issues of mental health disorder in Nigeria

Observations also estimated that common mental disorders arising from such cases as disillusion, frustration, anxiety, depression, physical and substance abuse-related disorders, and more, may eventually disable more persons than complications arising from such health disorders like stroke, heart disease, cancer, AIDS, deformations caused by accidents, and perhaps other terminal diseases.

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However, it is not out of place to say that these observations pose serious questions as to why mental health disorders are not given much more attention in the country as it should, for fact that it seems to be contributing to reasons large number of the Nigerian populations are found to behave irrationally and erratically.

Unfortunately, reports on mental health system in Nigeria, reveals that there is considerable neglect of mental health issues in the country.

Reports show that the existing Mental Health Policy document in Nigeria believed to be formulated in 1991, has since formulation, neither been revised nor received formal assessment and there is no existing desk in the ministries at any level to handle considerably common mental health issues in the country and only four per cent of government expenditures on health is earmarked for mental health cases.

Also in general terms, some countries in African are better resourced with regard to mental health attention and personnel, unlike in Nigeria where mental health disorders are given less attention and can be best described as fleeting with less or no awareness.

However, in the light of the recent observation, episodes recorded so far in some parts of the states in Nigeria, show that management of mental health challenges in the country is understandably poor and the misconceptions regarding mental health have continued to flourish, owing to unavailability of essential procedures.

Addressing issues of mental health disorder in Nigeria
Addressing issues of mental health disorder in Nigeria

It has also been observed that there are only a few nongovernmental organizations, humanitarian support groups and or volunteers involved in individual assistance activities such as housing, counseling, feeding, medications and so on.

This obviously, should force a rethink in our general attitudes towards addressing mental health and should also question our current disposition as regards to the situation at hand and seek a national strategy to discuss and address mental health challenges in Nigeria, be it as a result of economic situation or common health mental disorders.

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By and large, it will be heartwarming to have relevant Nigerian authority pass a comprehensive bill, one which should lay emphasis on prevention of mental health issues in Nigeria as part of its corporate responsibility to mental health community and the society at large.

And in addition, authorities should also come up with required action so that the country develops and implements both a policy and legal framework to addressing mental health issues.


 

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