By Dayo Johnson, Akure
WORRIED by the inhuman treatment meted to psychiatric patients by their handlers across the country, the practice of flogging and chaining them have been outlawed in the Ondo State psychiatrist hospitals. Also, forcing the patients to undergo fasting by religious leaders under the guise of casting demons out of them has been criticized. A psychiatrist consultant at the Neuropsychiatric Specialists Hospital, Akure, Dr Akinnuoye Akinwunmi, told Sunday Vanguard that the dignity of mentally deficient patients should henceforth be respected.
Akinwunmi, who spoke during this year’s mental day celebration, held under the theme, “Dignity in mental health”, lamented that people with mental health problems are among the most socially excluded and abused group in the society. “Respecting an individual’s identity and protecting this dignity will help to promote recovery. The act that violates dignity and fails to respect individuals can lead to further damage. You feel good or better in yourself when people treat you with kindness and compassion”, he stated. On the roles and services of medical social workers in promoting dignity in mental health, he said mentally challenged clients should be treated with respect while disrespecting should be avoided during consultation.
The Consultant Psychiatrist and Chief Medical Director of Neuropsychiatric Specialist Hospital, Dr Sajo Sunday, identified stigma, shame, discrimination and lack of access to care as factors militating against successful treatment of patients with mental disorder. Sunday said these factors prevent individuals in all countries from seeking treatment on timely basis. Decrying the negative effects of stigma and discrimination on psychiatric patients, he stressed the need for dignity in mental health services and change in public perception.
The Chairman of Association of Psychiatric Nurses of Nigeria (APNON),
Ondo State Chapter, Mr Gbiri Adeola, urged health workers to respect the individual identity of patients and maintain good interpersonal relationship with them. Adeola also called for public awareness to enlighten the community, government and non-governmental organisations on the best way to relate with, and support people with mental health problems. The APNON Chairman condemned the practice of flogging, chaining and forcing psychiatric patients to undergo fasting of any kind by religious leaders under the guise of casting demons out of them.
“Religious leaders should note that psychiatric patients are not animals and they should be respected by stopping all inhuman treatments being meted out to them.