A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Peter Ogunnubi, says huge cost of orthodox medication forces people with mental disorder to seek helps in Churches, Mosques and herbal homes.
Ogunnubi, also the Chief Executive Officer, Grace Cottage Clinics, made the assertion at a programme organised to mark the 2019 World Mental Health Day in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World Mental Health Day is observed on every Oct. 10 worldwide.
The day is set aside for individuals, communities, organisations and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to raise awareness, educate and inform the world on mental health issues.
It is also a day to advocate against stigma and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health.
Theme of the commemoration is: “Suicide Prevention, Raising more Awareness for Mental Health and Suicide Mission.”
Ogunnubi said: “Mental illness, as a chronic illness all over the world, is expensive.
“In fact, some NHIS or health insurance scheme refused to put mental illness in their area of coverage, as an individual have to pay from their pockets, and that is quite unfortunate.
“There is free medication for HIV at NIMR and some hospitals, but when people come with depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, inability to sleep, they have to pay from their pockets; it is quite very pathetic.
“A few medical institutions we have, are they equipped to provide subsidised medication? The answer is No.
“So, you have people resorting to private care like Churches, Mosques and herbalists. It is not that they don’t know they should seek orthodox care, but they don’t have money.
“Federal, States and Local Governments should come to the aid of those suffering from mental illnesses.”
The expert said that the concern for mental health of Nigerians had been the driving force for his call since 1999 for the passage of the Mental Health Bill by the National Assembly.
He added: “It’s quite unfortunate that the ninth Assembly is here now and the situation still remains the same.
“The eight assembly was almost getting it right as the bill passed the first and second readings stages and they left it.”
According to Ogunnubi, people need to understand that mental illness is not that man on the road naked alone, adding that every 40 seconds, one person loses his or her life to suicide and depression.
“Suicide is now a medical emergency. Mental illness has a very rich history because it has come of age.
“People have attributed the cause of mental illness to many things, especially evil spirit.
“People fail to realise that depression, anxiety and phobia, sexual addiction, internet addiction, and gambling, all these also constitute mental illness,” he added.
The expert said that the bill if passed, would care and support people suffering from mental illness.
It will also give them voice and protect their rights in the society.