The Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN) has called on the President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu, to prioritise mental health of Nigerians when in power.
The National President of the association, Prof. Taiwo Obindo, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
Obindo said that the Federal Government should continue to pay attention to mental health of the citizens by ensuring availability of quality mental healthcare facilities and services.
According to him, there is the need for huge investment-friendly in mental healthcare in the interest of the citizens.
He decried the poor state of the existing psychiatric hospitals/facilities.
Obindo urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts toward establishment more psychiatric hospitals.
”When you look at mental health programming within Nigeria, it has been poorly-funded over the years.
”Most states in the country do not have a functional psychiatric hospital, while the few existing psychiatric hospitals are dilapidated, and we have very few specialised cadres,” he said.
Obindo said that establishment of more psychiatric hospitals was necessary due to increasing cases of mental illness in the country.
According to him, mental health facilities available are inadequate to cater for the rising mental health cases in Nigeria.
He attributed the rise in the cases to drug abuse, stress, economic downturn, insecurity, unemployment, inadequate finances, depression and effects of inflation.
He also alleged that many healthcare institutions in the country did not pay adequate attention to mental health services.
According to him, mental health services are barely accessible outside the state capitals.
He said that there was an àurgent need to establish mental healthcare facilities at the grassroots.
He said, ”Example is the lower funding for mental health research or fewer mental health services relative to other health care services.
”Look around, we have got over 50 government hospitals looking after pregnant women. We have thousands of private hospitals and maternal homes for women and children, but how many mental health facilities are in Nigeria with a population of over 217 million people?
“They are very few. Many states in the country do not have a functional psychiatric hospital,” the psychiatrist said.
”The truth is that mental health has been far neglected in this part of the world; the government itself pays more attention to physical health than mental health.
”Only three per cent of the budget allocation to health sector is given to the mental subsector; this is too poor.
”There is urgent need to increase the budgetary allocation to mental health because it is as important as the physical health and there is no health without mental health.”
According to him, it is critical that people living with mental health conditions to continue to have access to treatment and care.
”Failure to take people’s mental and emotional well-being seriously will lead to long-term social and economic costs to society,” Obindo said.(NAN)