Saturday, 10 October 2015

World Mental Health Day

The Founder, Mental Health Foundation, Emmanuel Owoyemi, has called on the Federal Government to put in place the required manpower and infrastructure needed to manage people with mental illness living in various communities across the nation.

In an interview with our correspondent, Owoyemi said it wasn’t news anymore that there was an upsurge of mentally-ill persons roaming the streets.

He said, “Today is World Mental Health Day and till date, the causes of increasing sight of mentally-ill people in our nation remains the same across board. Lifestyles (alcohol, drug abuse), insecurity, increasing poverty and hopelessness, lack of strong political will on the side of the government and many more are all responsible for this notable increase in mental illness.

“In Nigeria today, we have many realities staring us in the face. Mental health/illness is one of the major issues. The most important document that addresses this issue is the Mental Health Bill. This document is the beginning of success in mental health legislation, care, advocacy, capacity building, and budgeting.”
However, Owoyemi said he hoped the Lagos State Government would continue to set the pace in addressing mental health issues.

“Lagos State currently has a mental health desk at the ministry of health, the first in Nigeria, even before the Federal Government. Beyond having the desk, however, is having mental health care, advocacy and infrastructure as a budget item. It is important adequate funding is provided to strategically address these issues,” he said.

Owoyemi urged the Lagos State Government to focus on funding aggressive advocacy programmes so as to increase the number of trained professionals.

He said, “Other areas to focus on include subsidisation of hospital bills and drugs, enlargement of psychiatric facilities, training and retraining of psychiatric workers and implementation of strong legislation against stigmatisation and discrimination of people with mental illness.

“The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Dignity in Mental health.’ We must use every resource at our disposal to address all the issues in mental health and promote the dignity of those having mental Illness.”

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