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Expert calls for awareness on mental health issues

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The immediate past President, Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital Yaba, Dr. Samuel Aladejare, has called for massive awareness campaigns on mental health issues.

Aladejare, also a psychiatrist, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Lagos.

The psychiatrist decried what he called the low awareness of mental health in Nigeria.

He said that more attention needed to be given to mental health to enable the populace to have better knowledge and understanding about it.

According to him, people with mental health conditions suffer humiliation, stigmatisation, discrimination, and denials; attributing the development to the lack of the right information about the condition.

He said, “In fact, there is no health without mental health; every health condition has mental health perspective.

“Everyone needs to understand that mental illness, like every other sickness, is curable.

“Unfortunately, people with mental illness are being isolated or locked up, taken to spiritual houses, or subjected to some inhuman maltreatment.

“Therefore, there is a need for massive education campaigns on mental health, particularly in rural communities and at the governance levels to enable people to understand its importance.”

He said that although mental health is an integral part of health and well-being, it has however been neglected in this part of the world.

According to Aladejare, a survey by the World Health Organisation estimates that worldwide, 450 million people have mental disorders and 25 per cent of the population will suffer from mental illness at some time in their lives.

He said that 90 per cent of Nigerians with mental disorders did not visit their healthcare providers for attention and care.

He linked such attitude to a lack of right information, misinformation and stigmatisation.

Aladejare said such an attitude was detrimental to both the individual and society at large.

“Most people who have mental illnesses carry them about; it is like they are working wounded. So, they go to work and live their lives with it.

“They might not be disturbing other people, but they are under-performing at their tasks or they are making wrong decisions as a result of the illness.

“Untreated mental illness, whether major or minor, carries a cost both for the individual and the society, hence, the need for increased public education campaigns on mental health,” he said.

According to him, most of the mental illnesses in people are not psychotic such as hallucinations and schizophrenia but are anxiety, stress, and depression.

He urged the practitioners in the mental health subsector, including non-governmental organisations, to take it upon themselves to create wider awareness of the health condition.

“More education campaigns need to be directed to mental health because it is as important as physical health,” Aladejare said.

(NAN)

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