Mental Illnesses

90 Per Cent of Mental Health Patients In Nigeria Avoid Treatments

90 Per Cent of Mental Health Patients In Nigeria Avoid Treatments

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A professor of psychiatry has said 90 per cent of Nigerians with mental disorders avoid treatments.

The professor, Taiwo Sheikh, said this is in a chat with NAN newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday. 

According to him, this is alarming because they would not be getting the right attention and care. He added that a situation like this could be detrimental to society.

Sheikh who is the ex-president of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria advised Nigerians to cultivate the habit of checking on their mental health.

He attributed the poor medical check-up attitude and treatment of mental health in Nigeria to:

  • Poor attention.
  • Poor recognition.
  • Poor stigmatization.

His words: 

“90 per cent of people who have mental disorders in our country, whether major or minor, do not get to see any psychiatric healthcare provider at all for relief of their symptoms.

“So, they are not diagnosed or treated, which is a shame, because they have a detrimental effect, not just on the individuals, but also on our society.

“Most people who have mental illnesses carry them about; it is like they are working wounded. So, they go to work and live their lives with it.

“They might not be disturbing other people, but they are under-performing at their tasks or they are making wrong decisions as a result of the illness.

“So, untreated mental illness, whether major or minor, carries a cost both for the individual and society.”

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The Psychiatrist said that one in every five persons must experience a mental illness at one point in their lifetime.

He explained that most of the mental illnesses experienced by people were a result of:

  • Anxiety.
  • Stress
  • Depression.

He debunked claims that psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, and schizophrenia caused this mental health crisis.

He continued:

“Those constitute the overwhelming majority of mental illnesses.

“They are very common and often missed because people do not even recognise them as mental illnesses, and they do not present themselves to healthcare providers.

“They do not present, sometimes, out of ignorance or just because the intervention facilities are not available or not within their easy reach.”

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He highlighted other causes of poor mental health treatment in Nigeria. They are:

Fewer psychiatrists: according to him, Nigeria has an estimated-only 200 psychiatrists. Persons in the field continue to suffer a brain drain.

Few psychiatric hospitals.

The poor state of psychiatric hospitals.

Non-function psychiatric hospitals.
Source: PUNCH Health Wise

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