Mental Health Issues

Economic Hardships In Nigeria Expose Citizens To Mental Illnesses – Psychiatrist

Mental Health Issues

Hardships in the Country Expose Nigerians To Mental Illnesses – Psychiatrist.

A psychiatrist has posited that visible hardships in Nigeria expose Nigerians to mental illnesses.

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The President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, Prof James Obindo made this known.

In a chat with newsmen on Sunday, Obindo spoke on the amendment of the constitution. He was emphatic on its impacts on attempted suicide.

He advocated for measures to curb the following impact on mental distress:

  • Attempted suicide.
  • Correctional Service Bill.

Obindo then advocated for the passage of the Mental Health and substance bill in Nigeria.

In an analysis obtained from NAN, mental health management has become more crucial. Especially, since the coronavirus pandemic started two years ago.

The report said that the pandemic had affected the world’s socio-economic and governance order.

The situation in Nigeria became worse due to the persistent neglect of the sector, experts claim.

According to data by the World Health Organisation, one in four Nigerians were suffering from mental illnesses. This was pulled from an average of 50 million people.

Successive administration of the country’s sub-sector of mental illness management had neglected this problem.

The Psychiatrist emphasized that 60 per cent of Nigerians had recorded a significant mental illness.

He also stressed the need to have more mental health workers to reduce these cases.

Obindo said:

“We don’t have enough mental health workers in the country and even the few that we have are all being attracted out of the country.

“We have less than 300 psychiatrists. The prescribed number is such that we should have nothing less than 1 to about 10,000 individuals.

“But what we have is 0.4 to about 10,000 individuals, four psychiatrists to 1 million Nigerians.

The psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, psychologist, social worker, as well as occupational therapist, work as a team. Psychiatric hospitals are also few.”

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Obindo revealed that more Nigerians may likely be inflicted with mental illness due to fuel scarcity.

He added that economic hardship, insecurity amongst others would foster it.

The psychiatrist explained:

“In the last few years, Nigerians have had to deal with issues like kidnapping, attacks and socio-economic downturns among others, and the recent fuel scarcity, forcing an individual to stay on queue for more than three hours to buy fuel even at exorbitant prices, is a major stressor for Nigerians, as stress is a major predisposing factor to mental illness.

“If one’s well-being is affected, such that an individual is not able to realise his potential or finds it difficult to work effectively or contribute to the society and be able to overcome normal stresses of life, then the person cannot be said to be mentally healthy.

“If you look at this and you compare it with what goes on in other climes, you will discover that we have a greater predisposition to developing mental illness,” he explained.

The President urged the government to decriminalise attempted suicide, adding that instead of punishing people who attempt to take their lives, they should be sent for medical attention.

“This bill talks about how to have a humane and globally accepted way of taking care of those who are mentally ill. What should be done is how the government is meant to fund and see to the wellbeing of those who are mentally ill.

“One of the other areas that need to be looked at is the criminal act CAP 237, which criminalises those who attempt to take their lives and that needs to be removed immediately. Those who attempt to take their lives are jailed for one year.

“Are we punishing them for being ill, or for the socio-economic problems in the country? No, we shouldn’t. What should be done is that they should be referred for medical attention, a psychiatric assessment.

“Even Ghana and Kenya have decriminalised suicide attempts. We are pleading with the good people of the country and all stakeholders to rise up and see that the ill among us are properly and humanely attended to,” he noted.

Mental Health Bill For Mental Illnesses

The group also pleaded with the government to hastily pass the mental health bill. The bill would help promote mental health and reduce cases of extremism that leads to suicide.

Also, read the latest health news in Nigeria on COVID-19

The Psychiatrists continued:

“The Lunacy Act looks at those who are mentally ill as being aggressive, nuisance and someone that needs to be kept in an asylum, away from the community.

“Rather than taking care of those that are mentally ill, the law tends to protect the community against them. Therefore, we felt that that law needed a review.

“As we talk now, the mental health bill has been passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives and has been harmonised and is now before the President for his assent. This has been between 2020 and early 2021.”

According to data by the psychiatrist, 90 per cent of attempted suicide cases are linked with psychiatric problems.

80 per cent of the data is linked with depression while others are linked with socio-economic factors.

Source: PUNCH HealthWise

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