The Federal Government said an estimated 40 million Nigerians are believed to be suffering from mental disorders.
According to Vanguard report, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, AbdulazizMashiAbdullahi, made this assertion at the on-going Mental Health Action Committee and Stakeholders Workshop in Abuja.
Abdullahi attributed the high level of mental disorder in Nigeria to misinterpretation and lack of awareness on mental disorder and inadequate attention paid to mental illnesses.
He also projected that there would be an increase in mental and psychological challenges than other health complications such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents and wars combined by the year 2020.
The Perm Sec. identified ways of addressing the high-level mental health challenge 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 psychosocial support in the country.
He said: “In Nigeria, an estimated 20%–30% 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.
“Unfortunately, the attention given to mental health disorders in Nigeria is inadequate. The level of awareness of the Nigerian public on mental health issues is also understandably poor and with lots of misconceptions.
“By 2020, it is estimated that common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse-related disorders, will disable more people than complications arising from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents, and wars combined! This is an astonishing statistic and possesses serious questions as to why mental health disorders are not given the needed attention that it currently receives.
“A policy for mental health services delivery was developed with several key provisions of the policy, including establishing a body at the Federal Ministry of Health to focus on Mental Health issues. “Some of the pertinent issues is how to address and dialogue with stakeholders on the burden of mental health, intimate them on the Mental Health policy, identify ways to fast-track the enactment of the Mental Health Act and modalities for resuscitating the National mental health action committee for coordinating the activities of various stakeholders on mental health and Psychosocial supports in Nigeria.”
Also speaking, the Director of Public Health in the ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, classified the statistics on mental health disorders as derogatory considering the current economic hardships in the country.
She said, “Considering the current economic situation in the country, the above statistics are damning and in the light of the recent suicidal episodes recorded in parts of Lagos (which are obviously a tip of the iceberg), it forces a rethink in our general attitudes to mental health and questions our current maintenance of the status quo.”
Similarly, Dr. Rex Mpaazange, the WHO Lead on Communicable and Non-communicable Diseases Intervention, also expressed dissatisfaction over the high burden of mental health disorders.
“People with severe mental disorders – moderate to severe depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders – generally have a life expectancy 10-20 years shorter than the general population,” Rex said.