Stigma has been identified as the major cause of depression and psychological issues among people living with leprosy and lymphatic filariasis.
This is contained in a joint research by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), The Leprosy Mission Nigeria and Global Disability Inclusion, carryout in Gboko and Konshisha local government areas of Benue State as pilot scheme for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Benue State.
Presenting the project to stakeholders in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, research advisor, The Leprosy Mission Nigeria, Paul Tsaku explained that 76 per cent depression and other psychological issues were reported among those with NTDs due to stigma. According to him, stigma reduced help-seeking and low adherence to treatment.
Tsaku lamented that some of the leprosy patients were nearing suicidal stage due to neglect, before the NGOs provided relief.
for them through inspiring group discussions, medical treatment and food.
He stressed the need to integrate mental health and psychological support for people with NTDs, to enable them to have a sense of belonging and as well live a better life.
The research advisor disclosed that Benue is the first state in the country for such study to be carried out, adding that it was monitored by the University of Jos and Benue State University Teaching Hospital Makurdi.
He called on the government to prioritise mental health support, by formulating policies and funding it to encourage victims and recommended the retraining of primary-health workers on mental issues.