By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA—The Federal Government said, yesterday, that an estimated 40 million Nigerians were believed to be suffering from mental disorders.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, stated this at the ongoing mental health action committee and stakeholders workshop in Abuja.
Abdullahi, who attributed the country’s high burden of mental disorders to inadequate attention to mental illnesses, misconceptions and lack of awareness on the part of the public, said more people would be disabled by psychological challenges than complications arising from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents and wars combined by the year 2020.
He identified ways of addressing the country’s mental health burden to include fast-tracking the enactment of the Mental Health Act as well as the resuscitation of the national mental health action committee for the coordination of stakeholders’ activities on mental health and psycho-social supports in the country.
He said: “In Nigeria, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of our populations are believed to suffer from mental disorders. This is a very significant number considering Nigeria has an estimated population of over 200 million.”
Also speaking, Director of Public Health in the ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, described Nigeria’s statistics on mental health disorders as damning, considering the current economic hardships in the country.
In his remarks, Dr. Rex Mpaazange, WHO Lead on Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases Intervention, lamented Nigeria’s high burden of such cases, noting that “people with severe mental disorders— moderate to severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders— generally have a life expectancy 10 to 20 years shorter than the general population.”