As Nigeria joined the global community to mark this year’s Mental Health Day, psychiatrists have urged Nigerians on positive mental health.
Mental health, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is a “state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
However, the global health body estimates that every one in four Nigerians have a form of mental health illness. In other words, about 60 million Nigerians have a mental illness.
Also, data from a recent international survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Gallup, revealed that young people in Nigeria are facing a mental health challenge, with one in six young Nigerians aged 15 -24 saying they often feel depressed, have little interest in doing things, or are worried, nervous or anxious.
Mental health experts have therefore, identified factors that promote joy, happiness, resilience and satisfaction as necessary for good mental health.
The medical director, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu, Dr Monday Igwe, told me that mental health promotion strategies cuts across the life cycle, from conception to dignified death, saying it focuses on building resilience and other protective factors and diminishing vulnerability factors.
Igwe stressed on the need for good obstetric and early childhood care, increased social connectedness which builds social capital and diminish social isolation and exclusion, reduce violence and discrimination, increased economic participation, good parenting etc.
He also called for more funding, saying “Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been.
“There is the need to build more mental health facilities, train personnel and provide working materials. Health workers should also be encouraged with better remuneration to reduce migration to foreign countries as their services are even more needed in Nigeria. These will go a long way to enhancing overall quality of life of Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, the minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has stressed the need to pay more attention to the mental health needs of individuals especially the youth who are experiencing stress from prevailing and emerging situations world wide.
He, however, said that the ministry, through the National Mental Health programme, was taking action to develop relevant policies and to coordinate mental health interventions and services nationwide, and has commenced the development of the national suicide prevention strategy.