Health

Mental illness: Expert advises against stigma

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Dr Shehu Sale, the Medical Director, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kware, Sokoto State, has advised Nigerians to stop discriminating against people with mental illness.

He gave the advice stigma in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Kware.

He explained that such stigma was discouraging people from seeking help.

Sale, an associate professor and master trainer with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), decried the stigma associated with mental ailments in the society.

According to him, early report and diagnosis of mental ailments will help to curtail the number of cases in the country.

Sale pointed out that mental cases could be easily controlled if taken to the right hospitals in good time for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The medical director however lauded the Sokoto State Zakkat and Endowment Commission for sponsoring mentally-ill patients to the hospital.

While describing the commission as one of the strong pillars of support to the hospital, Sale also commended the State Government for supporting the facility with an ambulance and other materials.

He urged international agencies, wealthy individuals and organisations to support the hospital in view of its specialised activities of handling mentally-ill patients, mostly from poor backgrounds.

Sale also expressed concern over the rising number of abandoned psychiatric patients at the hospital largely due to stigma, stressing that the situation had placed additional burden on the hospital.

He added that the hospital had sponsored enlightenment campaigns on mental health and stigma in Kano, Katsina and Sokoto amongst other states to address the problem of stigma.

The medical director traced the cause of poor mental health to drug abuse, depression, hardship or hereditary, stressing that it can be cured if detected and treated early.

He said that plans were underway to establish a family health clinic at the hospital to address the negative perception of people with regards to mental issues.

The consultant expressed confidence that the clinic, when established, would strengthen mental healthcare delivery.

Sale said that the hospital had 600 bed spaces with 40 in-patients, while others come as out-patients for consultation.

He commended the Federal Government on the ongoing renovation works in the hospital aimed at providing conducive offices, wards, accommodation and other structures.

The medical director said among the projects under construction was a perimeter fence to enhance security of the premises.

He added that the hospital’s management had within its resources also undertaken some direct repairs and renovations.

Sale disclosed that some of the major challenges confronting the hospital included poor power supply and inadequate essential staff to effectively manage the proposed family clinic, pharmacy, laboratory and other specialised departments.

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