Two consultant psychiatrists have called for collaboration among public and private stakeholders in creating mental health awareness to reduce the rising cases of mental disorders in Nigeria.
The consultants, Dr Kafia Ogunsola and Dr Tomi Imarah, in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos, said that much had not been done in creating awareness about mental health.
Ogunsola, a Consultant at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, said that at least one in four people would have a lifetime mental illness, meaning 25 per cent of every population.
“The figures are there. So, we need to act and manage it accordingly and a good way to start is by building awareness; let people understand that illnesses like these really exist.
“Experts in mental health cannot sustain the tempo of the conversation alone, because we are hospital bound.
“The patients who come to us are mainly those who have the knowledge of the existence of such facilities; many people who have problems still do not really know where to seek help.
“So, a public and private collaboration will go a long way to spreading the news further and many people will become aware.
“People need to talk about it from the family level, religious homes, schools, and they need to partner with the government to find solutions to the challenges of mental disorders, “ she said.
Also, Imarah said that collaboration among government and private sector in mental health campaigns would be a welcome development to bridge the gaps in mental health.
Imarah, also an online mental health counselling expert, called “Dr Tomi’s Haven’’ on social media, said: “There may be some collaborations going on, but I am not aware of them.
“Nigeria is blessed with many private citizens who have taken up the baton and championing mental health awareness initiatives on social media platforms.
“For example, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative is an NGO that has been consistent in creating awareness about mental health challenges on social media platforms.
“The government too is doing a good job by funding tertiary psychiatric facilities across the countries to ensure that those in dire needs receive mental healthcare.
“However, there is need to shift the focus to primary prevention.
“We call on the government to extend stakeholders’ meetings to reputable NGOs, so that we can generate a wider reach across the country. “