The Centre for Corrections and Human Development (CCHD), in partnership with New York based MSCI, have charged government at all levels in Nigeria to establish centres where citizens can access mental care. The centre gave the charge recently at an awareness and sensitisation workshop on mental health held in Lagos. Its Executive Director CCHD, Mrs. Obioma Agoziem, quoted National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2019 report and other international reports detailing precarious state of mental health in Nigeria.
According to the report, 15 per cent of adult Nigerians are on drugs; another research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the National Depression also indicated that about 31.6 per cent of Nigerians exhibited symptoms of depression, “even as Nigeria is regarded as the most depressed country in Africa.”
The report said globally, one person died every 40 seconds from depression, with Nigeria accounting for significant number of the victims. Agoziem said the workshop aims at creating an avenue to encourage people with mental health issues to speak out and be able to access support programmes through counselling, coaching and therapies for proper rehabilitation and healing:
“We tagged it ‘Speak Out’ because from the encounters we had with several people including youths, we found that victims hardly seek for help early enough. There is always that procrastination, that bottling up, that unwillingness to seek for intervention and sometimes, even the fear of being stigmatised holds back so many victims. By the time they eventually seek help, most times the individual has practically gone overboard.
“Our vision is to work with youths generally. However, we give special focus to social deviants, misguided and rudderless youths. In the past couple of years we have held different programmes for our target groups and have registered encouraging success.
“Of particular concern to us are victims of human trafficking, commercial sex workers, victims of drug misuse, and abused children in Nigeria through health education, advocacy and community-based programmes.
“The government should as a national emergency take special interest in and address the various aspects of the mental health of the citizens, particularly the youths. The NOA should start public enlightenment campaign to guide the citizens.”
Dr. Nayah Egegbara, Consultant Psychiatrist, Federal Neuro Psychiatry Hospital Yaba, Lagos, said: “The main challenge with mental health is that it is of the mind. In some other chronic illnesses there are laboratory tests that can confirm for example you have high blood sugar and then you begin treatment. But with mental illness, it can’t be seen except you have the skills to recognise the symptoms.
“A lot of times people with mental health problems are not even aware that they are going through medical issues that can be treated. The misconception about mental health associated with depression or substance abuse and so on make people to seek helps the wrong way which prolongs the cause of the illness and when an illness has been on for too long it results in things like suicide.”
Ms. Oyinkansola, founder, Emotions City, said: “There is no health without mental health. There is no physical health, no financial health and no spiritual health. No matter how financial stable you are, if you not emotionally stable, you will misuse your wealth. No matter how spiritual stable you are if you are not mentally stably, you will not have any relationship with the flavour of God.
“There are three stages before suicide. It starts with a level of cluelessness where you are totally disillusioned and is unconsciously incompetent. You have no idea that you need help or where help will come from.
“Then there is the level of helplessness and hopelessness. Here you lose all hope because you think every other person is helpless to help you. After this you fall into that stage where people start talking depression. Even at the level of depression, there is mild and chronic depression. You don’t need to get to that level before seeking help.”
Mr. Suzuki Yuichi a businessman from Japan and investor at MSCI disclosed: “In Nigeria, what I discovered from interactions is that the victims are usually within ages 13 to 25. In Japan, the victims are usually in their 40s and 50s, but we have many professionals to handle the cases. What I will advise is that Nigeria learns from what the developed world passed through and how they handled it without waiting to experience it.”