By Monsor Olowoopejo

It has been revealed that over two million people living in Lagos State suffer from one form of mental disorder or the other.

The Lagos state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, revealed this while briefing newsmen to herald this year’s World Mental Health Day celebration.

The figure has been described as worrisome given the 9,013,53 population figure ascribed to Lagos State by the National Population Commission in 2006 but disputed by the state government which claimed 17,553,924 as the more realistic figure based on data from the independent census it conducted.

His words: “Mental, neurological and substance abuse account for 14 per cent of the global burden of diseases, according to recent studies. In Lagos, an average of 14.1 per cent of the total Lagos population suffers from one form of mental illness or the other.

“These illnesses may not necessarily be psychosis but untreated minor mental illnesses which affects the quality of life” .

As a way out, he said the state has adopted a carefully thought out policy on mental health that includes sufficient and detailed strategies aimed at reducing the impact of mental health disorders on the citizenry.

Idris explained that the Lagos State Mental Health Policy which was based on the national philosophy of social justice and equity, was informed by not only the need to address the issues of mental health but by investing in it and ensuring that the rights of people with disorders are respected.

According to him: “The state government has recognised the significance of mental health and has decided to address these issues by investing in mental health and ensuring that the rights of people with these disorders are respected. We also hope to conduct awareness programmes and educate people on the effects of substance and alcohol abuse” .

He listed the new policy to include mental health promotion, primary care and access to services, treatment guidelines at primary healthcare level, services for people with severe mental illness, reduction of work place stress and the risk of suicide, and human resources for mental health.

The Commissioner noted that the state government was committed towards investing in mental health just as he reiterated government’s objective to provide qualitative mental healthcare to the people.

“This is only the first step in our plan to invest in mental health sector in Lagos State. Lagos will not be left behind as our objective to remain in the forefront to provide qualitative and quantitative mental healthcare to the citizens of the state will remain our focus in this administration,” he added .

He explained that the World Health Organization (WHO) record estimate that about 150million people are affected by alcohol use disorders; 40 million from depression; another 40 million from Alzheimer’s disease; and 1million people commit suicide

He noted that no matter how seemingly the effects of mental issues are, whether it is depression, epilepsy, dementia, alcohol dependence, disability or death, they can be managed effectively with the affected individuals living a reasonably normal life.



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