A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Femi Olugbile, on Wednesday said that at least 20 per cent of Nigerians are prone to mental disorder. Olugbile, also a former Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospial (LASUTH), Ikeja, spoke in an interview with pressmen in Lagos. “At least 20 per cent of the population will at some time in their lives experience at least one episode of mental disorder,’’ he said. According to him, it can also be due to high rate of poverty, lack of social welfare and high rate of endemic infectious diseases.
He said that at any point in time, two to five per cent of the 20 per cent population would manifest the symptoms of mental disorder at early stage. “These figures are universal, but the mental disorder can increase in times of social upheaval, such as war, terrorism and so on. “Also, security challenges including kidnappings and armed robbery can lead to increased stress, which increases the likelihood of nervous breakdown,’’ Olugbile said.
The consultant psychiatrist decried the few number of psychiatry hospitals in the country, said that the facilities would not meet the number of people that need medical attention. He suggested that a larger number of specialist hospitals spread across the country should be useful in the management of mental disorder. “There are eight Federal Government-owned neuro-psychiatric hospitals, and there are smaller units in the teaching hospitals and a few general hospitals handling mental cases.
“However, there is need to effectively use what is on the ground as mental healthcare should start from the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs). “All PHCs should be primed to render basic mental healthcare in form of diagnosis and simple treatment, while referral, where necessary, should originate from here,’’ Olugbile said. He said that the private hospitals should also be integrated into the system to provide universal care.
Olugbile said integration of private hospitals would enable people to get care close to their homes, while the specialist hospitals would only deal with serious referral cases. Also speaking, another consultant psychiatrist, Dr Maymunah Kadiri, said that there was need for more enlightenment of the populace on mental disorder. Kadiri, who is also the Medical Director of a Lagos based private hospital, Pinnacle Medical Services, said that stigmatisation still remained a challenge in the management of mental illnesses.
“The society need to be educated on the signs associated with mental illness including depression, schizophrenia and anxiety. “When people are well educated, those with mental disorders will be appreciated rather than being stigmatised. “People who suffer from various mental illnesses tend to be perceived by the society as witches or being attacked spiritually. “What such people need is family or social support so that they can get appropriate treatment they needed,” she said.
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