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Lagos begins free mental treatment

BY CHIOMA OBINNA & GABRIEL OLAWALE

IKEJA- THE Lagos State Government has developed a new mental health policy that would guarantee free treatment of mental disorders at all levels of care.

The policy which ensures comprehensive coverage of mental healthcare issues  would be pursued through integration of mental healthcare services into Primary Healthcare.

At the launch of the policy in Lagos, as part of the commemoration of the 2011 World Mental Health Day, with the theme; “The Great Push, Investing in Mental Health, Visibility, Rights and Recovery”, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said: “This policy is based on the national philosophy of social justice and equity, and it is hoped that full implementation will commence very shortly.”

According to him, the objective of the State government is to sharpen the concept of recovery and define its principle features.  “We will promote, implement, and adopt any appropriate and culturally acceptable method for bringing relief to those suffering from mental illness,” he stated.

Giving insight into the policy, Idris said that apart from free treatment, persons with mental cases will be offered referral to specialist services for further assessment, treatment and care if they require.

He said: “Mental, neurological and substance abuse account for 14 per cent of the global burden of diseases and in Lagos alone, an average of 14 per cent of the total population suffer from one form of mental illness or the other.  These illnesses may not necessarily be psychosis but untreated minor mental illnesses which affect the quality of life.”

The policy will ensure that anyone who has attempted suicide has a mental health evaluation free of charge and also develop local systems for suicide audit to learn lessons and take necessary action.


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