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We have more mentally ill persons on the streets — Psychiatrist

By Gabriel Olawale

The Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, The Retreat Mental Hospital, Dr. Olufemi Oluwatayo has called on Nigerians to take their mental health  serious, noting that, the fact someone is walking around normally does not mean he or she is mentally stable.

Oluwatayo who spoke during an activity to mark the 2017 World Mental Health Day organised by the hospital in Lagos explained that people commonly seen on the street constitute a minor proportion of people with mental disorder.

“People you see on the street are the one at the very end of mental disorder and they are in minority of people with mental disorder. Majority of people with mental disorders walk around normally because there are varieties of mental disorders such as depression, eating disorder and obsession among others.

“Psychological stress such as divorce, inconsistence in salary can trigger mental health disorder because it’s a stressful situation. Another thing could be abuse of  drugs or some physical health conditions.”

Oluwatayo who is also a Consultant Psychiatrist  and Medical Director, Milton Park Hospital, United Kingdom stressed the need for relaxation after stressful events “but regrettably that is one of the things Nigerians are not good at. Many people like to keep working but it’s not good for our health. We need to learn to relax and have some rest.”

“Also people need to sleep, a lot of Nigeria doesn’t sleep our body need six to  eight hours every night and it has to be structured in such a way that it would be consistence. People need to take time out of work and rest.”

He urged Nigerians to stop stigmatization of people with such problems, saying, it can happen to anyone, “the way people can develop diabetics, cancer and hypertension among other illness that is exactly how people can develop mental illness. Recovery is a slow process but when patient gets better, they recovered completely.

He urged Nigerians to live a healthy life, adding that, it remained a major way of preventing mental disorder, “We need to realise that healthy body is a healthy mind. If you keep your body healthy, your mind will function better. Therefore, you need to comply with healthy lifestyle such as abstain from smoking, if you want to drink it must be in moderation, engage in exercise and eat balance diet.”

He reiterated The RETREAT commitment to adding value to patient wellbeing. In future, we plan to engage in training medical personnel and we want to advocate for people with mental health disorders. But at the moment we are focusing on out-patient, in-patient and screening.

“At RETREAT Hospital our services are affordable, even through it’s a little higher than government hospitals but we have facilities that will justify our charges.”

“For people who will not be able to afford our prices, we are setting up what we call ‘Samaritan Fund’,  where people can get access to money to access care and the money is being managed by a credible organisation where individuals or cooperate organisations can pay to support people.


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