The President of the World Medical Association, WMA, Dr Osahon Enabulele, has called on the federal government to ascent to the Mental Health Bill to address the challenges of mental health in Nigeria.
Enabulele made the call while speaking at the second edition of Vanguard Mental Health summit in Lagos with with the theme: ‘Mental Health in a depressed economy.”
He stated: “About a billion people in the world, and one in every four Commonwealth citizens, particularly in the low and middle income (LMICs) countries and pre-eminently amongst women and the younger age group 20-24 years, are known to be affected with one form of mental health problem or the other.
“This is with about 80 percent of people unable to receive any form of treatment, a situation that leafs to the loss of a trillion dollars annually.
“Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this burden of mental health affectation is estimated to have increased by 25 percent.
“This was due to an interplay of various factors, including economic fortunes and worsening poverty, increased resort to substance use, and the disruption of mental health services, including emergency psychiatric services.”
He also noted that strengthening and regulation of health services, development of appropriate and adequate manpower/human resources for health will aid in addressing challenges associated with mental health.
Enabulele urged the President to work harder to improve the socio-economic life of Nigeria and it’s citizens.
He said further: “I also wish to call for value re-orientation, increased advocacy, education, and awareness creation as well as increased financial protection for people with mental health problem.
“And a dedicated budget for family health and mental health of not less than two percent of the annual health budget.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the General Manager/Editor-in-Chief, of Vanguard, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, said Vanguard is happy to organize the summit again.
He said: “A year and three months ago, precisely on this same premises, we held our maiden mental health summit, that has been widely acknowledged to be the first of its kind in Nigeria.
“By boldly and effectively brought the salient issues out from the shadows and into the light. The maiden summit helped to further break the lingering silence around mental health and mental illness.
“We are gathered here today, second time around to continue the conversation.
“This year’s campaign focuses on the impact of the mental health crisis on the National economy. With the theme “Mental Health in a Distressed Economy”, and sub-theme “Drug Abuse: A new force driving mental health crises in Nigeria”, we are taking the discussion to the next level.
“Through the mental health summit series, Vanguard has given a new orientation and purpose to the discourse, by educating and informing the general public to make informed decisions and commentaries on one hand, and strengthening the hope and expectations of those directly affected on the other.
“I usually tell whoever asks why Vanguard convenes this gathering annually, that we do it for just one thing, and that is to provide information, give education, and communicate with all.
“It is no secret that in Nigeria, access to quality, affordable mental health care is limited, and where available, inadequate. The stigma and discrimination around mental health issues make matters even more challenging.
“Our determination is that things must change and change for the better. We are proud advocates of that change through the Vanguard mental health summit series.
“Last year when the summit series was launched, it was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which although was a challenge, also served as an opportunity. It served as a window for us to integrate the mental health agenda into pandemic response and recovery plans.
“We know that in creating better understanding, we are helping to open up the hidden opportunities with which to respond to the nation’s crucial need for sustainable mental health support and services.”
Adefaye continued: “As stated by the World Health Organisation, ultimately, there is no health without mental health. We are not unaware of the importance of a resilient health system which is required to meet the mental and physical health needs of the population.
“By agitating for a sound mental health system, Vanguard is indirectly advocating for a resilient health system. This is just our own way of giving back to society, our own way of supporting the system for the benefit of all.
“Our vision for Nigeria is an effective and comprehensive mental health system that is affordable, accessible, and provides at least the minimum required services and psychosocial support for every Nigerian.
“To everyone seated here today, thank you for joining us. As it is in our character, this year, we have again brought the best of experts and the finest of personalities,” he added.