Some consultant psychiatrists say a spate of discrimination against people with a mental disorder is already reducing, but a whole lot still needs to be done to improve health.

Mental health, Suicide

The experts, Dr Afeez Enifeni and Dr Kafayah Ogunsola, said on Friday in Lagos that the current trends in the practice of psychiatry in Nigeria had improved tremendously.

They spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in commemoration of the 2019 World Mental Health Day.

It is marked annually on every Oct. 10 and the 2019 theme was: “Working Together to Prevent Suicide”.

In his reactions, Enifeni said that health practice in Nigeria was moving in the right direction as there had been more advocacy and awareness about mental health.

He was a President, Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba and is currently practising in the UK.

According to him, social media, through mental health advocacy groups, has also helped in ensuring mental health information was disseminated and more services offered.

“Some multi-nationals and companies are ensuring that members of staff also benefit and help the movement, ” he said.

Enifeni said that the perception of mental health in the country was still poor; adding cultural and religious beliefs were still major challenges.

He said that other challenges include inadequate mental health professionals.

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“The amount of work we put in is also suffering when we have too many end-users for service caregivers; this overwhelms and burdens the system.

“There is a need for government to ensure it puts in place the right number of professionals and funding.

“Individuals should understand that whenever they are experiencing emotional or psychological distress, let them seek appropriate healthcare.

“As a society, we need to ensure that mental health gets better than it is presently, by doing our bits; we need to change our ideologies and the way we view it, ” Enifeni said.

Also, Ogunsola urged governments at all levels to put in place child mental health programmes as a way of improving the mental wellbeing of the citizenry.

Ogunsola runs an online mental health counselling service, Empathyspace.ng.

According to her, the country lacked the synergistic relationship between early childhood education and the child mental health systems.

“A journey of my recent clinical experience in the UK, to understudy some of their processes, showed that there is so much to be done in Nigeria to get us closer to the level of standard best practices.

“In the UK, a child who has previously been flagged by the school as having either academic, behavioural or emotional challenges, is promptly referred for assessments in the child and adolescent mental health services.

“Each child, once registered in the mental health facility, is assigned his or her own mental health team; a mental health nurse, social worker, support worker, a child psychologist and psychiatrist. “This support systems, extend all the way to their college year and beyond.

“This demonstrates systems, being put in place, makes every child worthy and deserves a chance to grow optimally in their physical, mental, social and sexual health.

“We can replicate the same in Nigeria by working together at achieving it,” she said.

Vanguard

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