Why Nigeria should prioritize mental health policies, services — Expert
The state of mental healthcare policies and services in Nigeria is a far cry from what it ought to be in the 21st century, a mental health expert has revealed.
A chief consultant psychiatrist, Dr Olushola Ephraim-Oluwanuga made the disclosure yesterday at the second ‘All things medical conference and exhibition’ organised by Media Trust in collaboration with other partners in Abuja.
She said there was still poor awareness about mental health, and stigma for sufferers in the country.
Ephraim-Oluwanuga who is also the head of the department of psychiatry at the National Hospital, Abuja said till date, Nigeria does not have a policy on mental health because there is no health plan, and that it still utilizes archaic laws on mental health.
While calling for review of the country’s mental health laws, the expert said there is presently no policy on drug abuse. She said there was also no funding for mental health except for funds provided for psychiatric hospitals.
The mental health expert said Nigeria suffers from serious shortage of mental health workers, noting that there is less than one psychiatrist to a million Nigerians, and even fewer psychologists, and social workers.
President of the Vanguard Against Drug Abuse (Vgada) Dr. Hope Omeiza, called for attitudinal change towards people who abuse drugs. He said it was not good for law enforcement agents to leave drugs peddlers and harass drug users.
Dr Omeiza called for adolescent friendly treatment patterns, and researches into causes of drug abuse. He added that over the past few decades, Nigeria has emerged as a major drug trafficking hub.
Prof Emeje Martins, a representative of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) at the event called on government to invest more on research into drug abuse issues and other health challenges in the country. He advised families to pay attention to the care of their children and that youth should resist pressure from peers to do wrong.