October 10, 2020

World Mental Health Day: 350 psychiatrists serve 200m population — NMA

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has said only 350 psychiatrists who specialise in mental health are currently serving 200 million people in Nigeria.

Prof Baba Issa,  the Chairman of the Kwara branch of NMA,  said this to mark the 2020 World Mental Health Day.

Issa in a statement said that this year’s theme titled: “Mental Health for all: Greater investment, greater access,” is to call on the government, non-governmental organisations, and individuals to pay more attention to it,  invest more in it to make mental healthcare accessible to all.

Issa said, “There are fewer specialists, less support and the stigma against it is the highest amongst all health conditions.

READ ALSO: Mental Health Day: Psychiatrists decry poor funding, inadequate manpower

“In Kwara State, there are about 12 psychiatrists with all of them practising in the state capital, Ilorin,” he said.

According to him, it is a leading cause of disabilities and deaths due to suicide globally, Nigeria inclusive.

He described health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not the absence of disease or infirmity.

He pointed out that there is no family without someone who has or has had a condition, adding that health is not complete without mental health

The NMA Chairman who is also an expert in Psychiatry stated that anxiety, depression, psychotic disorders, and substance use disorders are very common in our society.

“The incidences of substance; drug use disorders such as cannabis, alcohol, sedatives, opioids, hallucinogens, among others went up tremendously globally and in Nigeria to an alarming rate to get everybody talking, yet special attention has not been paid to mental health,” he said.

He, however, observed that at the state level, the Kwara government is working hard to upgrade its health facilities, recruit more health workers, and enhance the health system.

“We are grateful to the government but we will want the government to focus more on it as it is doing to physical health.

“The entire Kwara North currently does not have a single mental health care doctor, whether in private or public.

“As a psychiatrist, myself; there are some other things that we (NMA)  will like to discuss with the government as soon as we are able to do so that will help in strengthening mental health in Kwara State,” he said.