60 Million Nigerians Battling Depression, Other Mental Illness

depressed nigerians
According to recent statistic, not less than 60 million Nigerians are suffering from mental illness

More than 60 million Nigerians, according to Taiwo Obindo, President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), are affected by mental diseases.

This was said by Mr. Obindo, who is also the head of the faculty of psychiatry at the Nigerian branch of the West African College of Physicians, in an interview with NAN on Sunday in Abuja.

“Mental healthcare is in a sorry state given that we have more than 60 million Nigerians suffering from various mental illnesses and the fact that only about 10 per cent of them were able to access appropriate care.

“We are left with more than 90 per cent who are unable to access care and this group is called the treatment gap for mental illnesses,’’ Mr Obindo said.

He claimed that a number of factors, including a lack of knowledge about the causes and treatments of mental illnesses, contributed to the gap.

Myths and traditional beliefs, insufficient mental health facilities, and a shortage of mental health specialists, according to Mr. Obindo, are among issues that hamper the care of mental illness in Nigeria.

He said that the few mental health institutions that were accessible were found in the urban cores.

Given that 60% of Nigerians reside in rural regions, Mr. Obindo stated that these people lack access to competent treatment and must travel great distances to get services.

Additionally, he claimed that there were not enough mental health professionals, as seen by the ratio. 

He claimed that most of the handful who received training were ready to escape the nation.

“The setting in which we work, the level of security, and the pay individuals get in the nation tend to drive them away.

He said, “And then, of course, there’s the draw factor from the wealthy nations where they tend to poach on the already qualified medical professionals in the country, particularly the psychiatrists.”

According to Mr. Obindo, it is inexpensive to hire professionals in low- to middle-income nations, therefore it is simpler for wealthy countries to steal already-made goods than it is to invest in local training for these specialists.

He asserted that Nigeria must put its mental health policy on the practice of psychiatry into effect.

Although the paper was last reviewed in 2013, Mr. Obindo said that it was still not being used.

The integration of mental health into primary healthcare, he claimed, was a key element of the concept but had not yet been accomplished after nine years.

The “lunacy statute,” which was initially passed in 1916 and then revised in 1958, is the legal framework now in effect in the nation, the psychiatrist said.

”The Mental Health Bill by the mental health stakeholders led by the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), in conjunction with the National Assembly and the Ministry of Health was yet to be assented to by the President.

”This is the most recent effort in 30 years,” he said.


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