Experts have urged the federal and state government on the immediate passage of the Mental Health Bill into law in order to arrest mental illnesses and issues that pose great danger to the society.
They stressed that since the introduction of the Mental Health Bill in 2003, with the hope of reducing the burden of mental illnesses in the country, the bill is yet to be passed into law as it keeps on ending on the floor of the Senate.
The experts, who decried the increase of mental illness in Nigerian youths during a National Roundtable discussion on mental healthcare organised by Mindplus Practitioners in commemoration of the World Mental Day said over 20 million youth are suffering from various forms of the disease, which is preventable if adequate attention is paid by the government and all the stakeholders.
Speaking at the event, Consultant Psychiatric and lecturer, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Oluseun Peter Nubi warned that the increase in drug addiction among youths could lead to wide spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted disease.
He said due to the urge to quench that desire for drugs, many youths who are found in slumps share the same needles, injecting themselves with hard drugs, in which if one of them has disease, could transmit it to others.
“You see guys staying under bridges sharing the same needles, injecting themselves with drugs. They later go to hotels to sleep with girls. This act increases the spread of sexual transmitted diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis and others,” he noted.
Representing the National President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, Dr. Dr. Taiwo Sheikh in his presentation titled: “Menace of Drug Addiction among Our Youth”, Consultant Psychiatrist at the University College of Medicine, Ibadan, Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik stressed that with the increase in the prevalence of mental illness in the country, there is need for stakeholders to address the issues as it could result to increase in crime rate.
He said most of the patients he had treated on drug addiction confessed that they hear strange voices asking them to kill their family members or people around them, adding that if nothing is done to arrest the situation, which is common among youths, there would be increase in murder rate in the country.
Meanwhile, in line with its mandate to improve the mental wellbeing and mark the World Mental Health Day, Director, Tranquil and Quest, Olukunle Adeogun has expressed optimism that telephonic counselling can address the issue of stigma revolving around mental health.
According to Adeogun, mental health is a critical issue in Nigeria today with young people becoming exposed to the risk factors causing mental health.
“Research has confirmed that one out of ten young persons have a diagnostic mental disorder with half of all mental problems manifesting by the age of fourteen and 75 per cent of such cases manifesting by the age of 24,” he said.
Adeogun noted that young people in contemporary times now experience constant stress and challenges happening in their lives.
“Many issues facing the youngsters today includes bullying, suicide tendencies, gender identity discrimination, effects of trauma. They require global awareness as well as new program and guideline on how we can protect and empower the next generation,” he added.
The Director highlighted that mental health also has a huge impact on the adulthood because women who had experienced one childhood adversity has a 66 per cent increased risk of premature death while those who had experienced two or more adversities had an 80 per cent increased risk compared to their peers as one in three adult mental health conditions relate directly to adverse childhood experience.
Adeogun said it points to the fact that young people require the support of adults, parents or guardians at some point in their lives because three in four diagnosable mental health conditions do not access the support they may require at their time of need.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Rivers State, Pharm Wale Oladigbolu said due to the easy availability of these illicit drugs and substances as well as narcotics, there must be increased awareness and social support from all stakeholders to prevent the youths from engaging in this act.
He said drug abuse also poses serious road dangers as drivers are engaged in this practice, thereby endangering the lives of passengers, who could be involved in road crashes.
He said most of the road accidents we see are as a result of the drivers been intoxicated with overdoes of prescription drugs such as codeine, tramadol and others
He, however, called on enforcement agencies to increase their watch on hawkers of these illicit drugs at every motor park, streets and all corners of the communities and take drastic measures against the perpetrators.
Also, Employee Assisted Program (EAP) consultant, Tunji Odebiyi said that young people carry the physical, emotional and cultural connotations.
“With respect to predisposition to mental health issues, genetic explanation is weak as there are no convincing biochemical mechanisms to predict if a person would be schizophrenic.
Even warrior gene and Jacobs’s syndrome are not conclusive personality traits result from combination of gene but nurture contributes immensely to how we think feel or act,” he added.
The consultant said that telephonic counseling can come to the rescue in the area of spouses, careers, finance, sex, value re-alignment, child bearing and communication.
He continued: “Family is a major significant other in the socio psychological development of an individual. But there is no perfect family.
Some studies report that, about 90per cent of families has one form of dysfunction or the other.
It is relentless care, respect love bonding in the face of challenge that makes a family mentally healthy.
“Fortunately there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience beginning from the earliest age this helps adolescents cope with the challenges of today’s world in a better way.”
Odebiyi noted that this year world health mental day is concerned about issues facing young people and cover a small portion of the great research stories ideas and programs to help the next generations to be strong and resilient in the face of hardship life changes, discrimination and destruction.
Experts seek passage of mental health bill, telephonic counselling — Features — The Guardian Nigeria…