An expert in psychiatry medicine, Prof. Fatai Badru, on Friday called on the three tiers of government and wealthy individuals to establish more mental healthcare facilities in Nigeria.
Badru, also a Psychiatric Nurse, said the call became necessary due to the increasing cases of mental illness in Nigeria.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that mental health facilities available in the country were inadequate to cater for the rising cases of mental illness.
The expert attributed the rising cases of mental illness to drug abuse, stress, economic downturn, unemployment, inadequate finances, depression and effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, mental health services are barely accessible outside the state capitals, adding that there was urgent need to establish mental healthcare facilities at the grassroots.
He noted that most mental health cases happened in rural communities where there were no mental healthcare facilities and psychiatric hospitals.
Badru said that was the reason why many people would resort to taking the victims to prayer houses where the situation would be complicated.
He said that mental health was often neglected, and not accorded the same degree of importance as physical health.
The expert attributed the neglect of mental cases in the country to the public perception, equating people with psychiatric challenge to one suffering from insanity.
“Mental health is a neglected area, as we mostly talk about physical health.
“A person is said to be healthy when he or she is socially, physically and mentally fit. Being healthy is not just the absence of infirmity.
“It is sad that mentally-ill people are oftentimes stigmatised.
“People still stigmatise mental health patients. Instead of bringing mentally-ill people to the hospitals, you see them being taken to prayer houses or native doctors.
“By the time they go to psychiatric hospitals, they would have wasted all the resources they should have used to treat them in a mental health facility.
“Mental illness is curable with modern science. What kills most mentally challenged people is not their immediate mental challenge.
“Rather, it is other health illness that are not treated due to the neglect of such people in the first instance,’’ he said.
Badru stressed that mental health should be given the seriousness it deserved by government, individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
He also called on the government to subsidise the treatment of mental illness, to enable more mental patients to access treatment.
The expert said this would go a long way to increase access to mental healthcare and prevent mental cases from degenerating and making them difficult to treat or manage.
Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
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