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Aderinola Bunmi
Science Laboratory Technology
Aspirant, Nigeria.

THE Association of Psychiatrist in Nigeria says that passing of the National Mental Health Bill into law will help re-position the health sector to meet emerging modern challenges.

“It will also in general terms enhance the mental health and well-being of all Nigerians,’’ the President of the Association, Dr Taiwo Sheikh, told reporters in Enugu on Sunday. Sheikh was speaking after the inaugural meeting of the newly-returned executive of the association held at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu.

He said that the bill, which had passed its first and second reading, was at the public hearing stage at the National Assembly. He said it would grant the human rights of mental patients and ensure that they have access to qualitative care in all mental health or psychiatric facilities.

“It is supposed to guaranty the human rights and properties of people who are mentally ill and ensure they have access to effective, humane and culturally sensitise treatments. “It will task government on the funding for mental health; certain percentages of the National Health Fund should be dedicated to mental health.

“It will also task government on training of mental health professionals of different cadre such as mental health consultants, doctors, nurses, community healthcare providers as well as psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.

“It will also task government on the ratio of recruitment of mental health workers at every government-owned facility. “It will task government in integrating mental health to the Primary Healthcare system and other grassroots healthcare programmes,’’ he said.

He explained that the existing law backing mental health and its practice in the country was outdated.

“The 1914 Lunacy Law copied from the English Laws was still the main basis of mental health and psychiatric practice in the country, which is abnormal, regressive and not all-compassing by modern terms,’’ he explained. Sheikh, who is with the Department of Psychiatry, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, called for the implementation of Nigeria National Mental Healthcare Policy, which was adopted by the Federal Government in 2013.

He noted that the policy seeks to go beyond treatment or cure of mental health patients to activities and programmes of mental well-being promotions, mental illness prevention and universal access to mental healthcare. According to him, all these three focal areas are the modern and best practice line of thinking in the medical world.

“Mental illness prevention is having activities and programmes meant to inform people of the signs and symptoms to watch out for and report to their doctor immediately, if need be. “It can be sleeplessness at night, over indulgence on drug abuse and alcoholism, depression and constant negative thoughts etc,’’ he said.

It would be recalled that abnormalities that lead to mental illness is expanding daily within the society. These included; suicide attempt, depression, sleeplessness, unnecessary aggression and agitations, inordinate quests or aspirations that hurt oneself or others and unnecessary attack on the environment and animals.

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