The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) says the country still has no mental health policy to be implemented, leaving people with mental health challenges vulnerable.
In an address to mark World Health Day, which focuses on depression, president of NMA, Dr Mike Ogirima, said, “With the exception of Lagos, most local government areas in Nigeria have no organised mental health programmes for its citizens.”
The association has said it will work closely with the National Assembly to pass a comprehensive bill on mental health in Nigeria.
“A national strategy to address mental health problems in Nigeria by governments at all levels is needed, one which should lay emphasis on prevention.”
He said people with mental illness were the “most neglected” because they are “considered defective in character or under a punishment for spiritual deviance.”
Citing huge gaps in manpower and treatment to manage mental illness, Ogirima said available professionals must retrain and become advocates for their patients.
“Any imminent risk of suicide must be communicated to all staff involved in the treatment and “significant” others in the life of the patient,” said Ogirima.
“Recent incidents in Lagos must draw our attention to the fact that there are many others who commit suicide and die unnoticed.” DAILLYTRUST.M