House of Representatives has said that over 20 million Nigerians have one form of mental illness or another.
The member representing Ahoada-West/Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni federal constituency of Rivers State, Hon Uchechuku Nnam-Obi, while presenting a motion on “Need to Address the Rising Cases of Mental Health in Nigeria” said 3 out of every 10 Nigerian may be affected.
The House added that over 20,000,000 Nigerians were currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving mental health facilities around the country and further carry out serious sensitization of Nigerians on this issue.
It also asked the Committee on Health Institutions to explore the modalities of liaising with stakeholders in the health sector to promote, educate and sensitize Nigerians on mental health.
According to Nnam-Obi, mental illness manifests in mood disorder, anxiety disorder, trauma-related disorder, personality disorder, old age-related disorder, substance abuse disorder or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.
He said: “According to the World Health Organization statistics, over twenty million Nigerians are currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
“3 out of 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or the other, presently there is no mental health legislation in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian mental health policy is the only framework that has access to mental healthcare, dealing with mental and neurological disorders in Nigeria, discouraging stigmatization against persons with mental disorders and has institutionalized standards for Psychiatric practice.
“The increase in cases of depression is traceable to multifactorial inter and intrapersonal issues which leads to suicidal death in the country and this requires urgent attention.
“Nigeria has only 130 Psychiatrists with over 20 million citizens suffering from mental disorders.
“With the few functional Mental Health Facilities and inadequate mental health practitioners in the country, mental health cases are left for traditional practitioners, hence the upsurge in mental health in Nigeria.
“The statistics are troubling and the continued lack of a legal framework on mental health in the country will simply cause the situation to degenerate.”
Adopting the motion, the House gave six weeks to the committees within which to carry out the assignment and report back to it for further legislative action.