Alarming Rate Of Mental Illness In Nigeria

<strong>Alarming Rate Of Mental Illness In Nigeria</strong>

World Health Organisation, WHO, defines mental health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

As simple as the definition may sound, the rising cases of mental illness across the globe has reached a frightening proportion and Nigeria is not an exception.

 For instance, the World Health Organisation statistics put the number of Nigerians suffering from various degrees of mental illness in the country at over 20 million. Worse still, this segment of people the world body said do not have access to psychiatric health care.

 A breakdown in the alarming figure indicates that three out of ten Nigerians have one form of mental illness or the other.

Judging from the dimension mental health issues have taken in the country there is no shortage of concerns on the threats posed by the scenario.

In recent times, critical stakeholders from the health sector have been expressing worries over the growing spate of mental illness in the country.

According to the Nigerian Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, APN, more than 60 million citizens are suffering from one form of mental illness or the other.

The APN adds that, “Mental healthcare is in a sorry state given that we have more than 60 million Nigerians suffering from various mental illnesses and the fact that only about 10% of them were able to access appropriate care”.

Sadly, “More than 90% of cases are unable to access care and this group is called the treatment gap for mental illnesses’’.

The ‘gap’ experts say was as a result of various factors like the knowledge gap in which people do not have appropriate information about the causes and treatment for mental illnesses.

The fact that 60% of Nigerians live in the rural areas and have to travel long distances to access facilities compounds the mental health

Also, the number of mental health practitioners was low as it fell below the ratio recommended by the World Health Organisation.

One wonders what could be the causes or causes of mental ill health. Recently, unhealthy living by young people of senior and junior secondary school age have been found engaging in illicit drugs such as Met popularly known as ‘mkpurummiri’ in one of the local languages’.  

The effects of the drug leads to madness as no non-smoker has ever taken it and remains the same.  In fact, it knocks the user out within minutes of taking it, thereby resulting in madness. Evidence abound and were in circulation on social media on the dreaded effect of met. Other drugs like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, deliberate overdose of tramadol and a certain brand of cough syrup.  

The use of drug causing madness in Nigeria cut across sex and religion and it was growing astronomical just as the Association of Psychiatric had raised the alarm. Recall that in the first term of office of President Buhari, as a result of abuse of a brand of cough syrup with codeine, President placed a ban on the medicine, close down pharmaceutical companies from operations, yet it never stopped those the peddles drugs from doing so, and they do not care at all so long as money keep coming.

Recall that top politicians, security officers are involved in trafficking illicit drugs, helping to increase madness in the society owing to greed and love of money. A popular Police ACP had been standing trial on his involvement in illicit drugs trafficking and many others who are at large. Drugs have destroyed the lives of would-be productive boys and girls who are ordinarily supposed to be in tertiary institutions studying even though the Academic Staff Union of the Universities , ASUU is still on strike. Reports, though not scientifically verified, opined that the ASUU strike has made the students more vulnerable to doing drugs which is detrimental to the society.

In this vein, we call on the public and private sectors to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving mental health facilities around the country and further carry out robust sensitisation on this issue, explore the modalities of working with stakeholders in the health sector both at the national and subnational level to promote, educate and sensitise Nigerians on mental health.

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