By Lilian U. Okoro
A consultant Neuro-psychiatrist, Dr Maymunah Kadiri, on Tuesday called on government at all levels to pay attention to the mental health of citizens.
Kadiri, also the Medical Director of Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that this could be achieved by ensuring the availability of quality mental health facilities and services across the country.
According to her, there is need for serious investments in mental health care because we have seen that when it is not taken care of and crisis hits, people are really affected.
The Neuro-psychiatrist decried the poor state of the few existing psychiatric hospitals/facilities and urged government at all levels to intensify more efforts toward establishing more psychiatric hospitals across the country.
“When you look at mental health programming within Nigeria, traditionally like anywhere else in the world, it has been poorly funded over the years.
“Most states in the country do not have a functional psychiatric hospital, while our few existing psychiatric hospitals are dilapidated, and we have very few specialised cadres.
“The governments should pay attention to mental health of the citizens with the view to ensuring the availability of quality mental health facilities and services,” she said.
Kadiri said that the establishment of more psychiatric hospitals had became necessary due to the increasing cases of mental health conditions in the country as the available mental health facilities were inadequate to cater for the rising cases.
She attributed the rising cases of mental health conditions to drug abuse, stress, economic downturn, unemployment, insecurity, inadequate finances, depression among others.
She lamented that the majority of the health care institutions in the country paid less attention to mental health cases.
According to her, mental health services are barely accessible outside the state capitals, adding that there is urgent need to establish mental healthcare facilities at the grassroots.
She emphasised that the three tiers of government, non-governmental organisations and the private sector should really consider mental health as a priority.
She said: “There are fewer mental health services in relative to other health care services.
“Look around, we have got over 50 government hospitals looking after pregnant women. We have thousands of private hospitals and maternal homes for women and children.
“But, how many mental health facilities are in Nigeria with a population of over 217 million people? They are very few; even most states in the country do not have a functional psychiatric hospital.
“The truth is that the government may not be able to do enough in tackling the menace of mental health.
“While the government is doing what it can, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and individuals must come together to address the treatment gap in mental health and provide facilities for those who need treatment before they fall into wrong hands.”
According to her, it is critical that people living with mental health conditions have continued access to treatment and care.
“A failure to take the citizen’s mental and emotional wellbeing seriously will lead to long-term social and economic costs to society,” Kadiri said.(NAN)