In the Lagos State Ministry of Health, a Consultant Psychiatrist and former Permanent Secretary,Dr. Olufemi Olugbile speaks onmost episodes of mental illness which are undiscovered and untreated.
During a zoom meeting organised by Retreat Healthcare in commemoration of the 2021 World Mental Health Day themed ‘Mental health in an unequal world’,he described the state of mental health services in developed countries of the world as one which Nigeria should desire to have.
He expressed dissatisfaction saying that the mental health service in Nigeria is bleak and lets mental illness go undiscovered.
According to him, COVID-19 lockdowns, fear of infections, deaths, and unprecedented challenges worsened the mental health cases in the world. The rate of intimate partner homicide and domestic violence have increased and the uncertainty about the future of their work.
He said this that the theme of the mental health of the year 2021 is important as inequality exists not just between people, but even more between nations.
He went further to say that Inequality exists not just between people, but even more starkly between nations stating that there are nations that are, by and large, able to meet the needs of their people and that there are also other nations, such as most of the nations of Africa, where there has been a tradition of relying on other nations to do the thinking and find the cures for illnesses that ravage their people, such as malaria and sickle cell disease.
He discussed that in situations such as COVID-19 where resources are universally stretched, it is only reasonable that rich nations will look after their people first, whether in relation to vaccines or other materials, before attending to the needs of dependent others.
He highlighted that what the theme of this year’s mental health day intends to say is that we are all in it together, as a people, and as a world. According to him, “attention of a post-COVID-19 world should not just be focused on having rich nations responding to the heightened awareness of their people concerning Mental Health by scaling up preventive and curative service provision. Rather, everybody’s attention should on seeing that nobody is left behind. Poor nations should focus not on how much aid they can extort from their rich neighbours in tandem with their long-standing sense of entitlement, but on how they can expand their own capabilities to respond to their people’s needs.”
Olugbile noted that primary health care, which includes basic mental healthcare, should be made available at every citizen’s doorstep.
He added, “this will need to be synchronized with specialist regional supervision, facilities, and services. Government cannot do it alone, and there is a requirement for strong private sector participation in awareness creation and service provision,”.