MENTAL DISORDER!!! ‘64 Million Nigerians Are Mentally Ill’

Former Power Minister Prof. Chinedu Nebo has rated governments at all levels low in the provision of psychiatric and mental health care. He said this was worrisome in the face of findings that about 64 million Nigerians suffer from one form of mental disorder or the other.

Nebo spoke yesterday [Aug. 31] at the second public lecture of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, in collaboration with the West African College of Nursing. Speaking on the theme: “Psychiatric and Mental Health in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”, the former minister said whereas government had done much in Primary Health Care, much was yet to be done in psychiatric and mental health.

“I will confess that while government had built modern diagnostic centres, dialysis and ophthalmological centres, and constructed more than 710 Primary Health Care centres in all political wards in Enugu, we are only beginning to optimise and modernise our psychiatric and mental health institutions to meet demands. Despite the efforts of all levels of government, Nigerians still grapple with social challenges, such as poverty and unemployment. These situations have escalated because of the lack of understanding of the malaise of mental health disorder and the treatments required”, he said.

Nebo identified causes of mental illness as genetic composition, early development, neurological and psychological experiences and environmental stresses.

While calling for increased awareness on the treatment and management of the sickness, Nebo said “the belief of many Nigerians that mental disorder comes due to supernatural forces and can only be cured through traditional practices and supernatural incantations, must give way for the realities of modern conditions, which in fact, produce the stresses that causes these conditions.”

The former minister called for adequate research funding and training of workers, stressing that “this will increase our output of psychiatric nurses and create more positions for residency training in psychiatry”.

Chief Medical Director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Dr. Jojo Onwukwe said the institution was the only one east of the Niger, with a strength of 1,000 workers, including eight consultant specialist psychiatrists, more than 400 psychiatric nurses and 27 resident doctors.


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