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Mental health cases on the increase in Nigeria

There is a noticeably high increase in mental health cases across the country, and this is linked to too much anxiety and depression resulting from the harsh economic environment, Adegboyega Ogunlesi, the Provost and Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Abeokuta, said yesterday at a press conference in Abeokuta.

Dr Ogunlesi, who also canvassed for the establishment of more mental health centres across the country, said the establishment of such centres would help reduce the high rate of mental illness.

“The truth of the matter is that mental illness is on the increase,” he said. “The level of awareness is, however, low. The gospel we are preaching today is that all stakeholders have something to contribute. Even the MDGs are connected to mental health.” The Medical Director reiterated his calls for the provision of mental healthcare services at every health centre in the country so that mental and physical health care can be received at the same point.

“It is in unfair to concentrate mental health services in the urban centres alone,” he said. “At every General Hospital, there must be a mental health unit.”

He said the current tendency of creating a sharp divide between physical and mental health is no longer tenable because there is absolutely no health without mental health.

“There is, therefore, an urgent need more than ever before, to develop health care delivery systems which efficiently integrate physical and mental health services,” he said.

Mr Ogunlesi also said that about 30 per cent of psychiatric patients were not being given proper medical treatment, adding that those involved preferred patronising herbalists or spiritualists.

He said, in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation, federal and state governments should evolve a system whereby primary health care providers can address physical and mental health problems.

“It beckons on government health planning authorities at national, state and local government levels to pay close attention to the importance of this issue in setting up services,” he said, announcing that the hospital had commenced a programme of integration of mental health service into the primary care at the local government level in the state.