Psychiatrist advises against stigmatisation of mental health patients

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By Kadiri Abdulrahman

Abuja, Oct. 21, 2020 A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Temitayo Daramola, has urged Nigerians to stop stigmatization of mental health patients so as to help their healing.

Daramola gave the advice in his lecture at an advocacy programme on mental health, organised by Rotary clubs of Apo, FCT Urban and Abuja Ministers Hill.

He said that stigmatization impedes treatment of mental health, adding that the dearth of medical practitioners in mental health is also a problem.

“Stigma impedes treatment of mental health, and it applies to both the patients and the practitioners.

“There is also a deficit in mental health experts and institutions. We have about 350 psychiatrists to cater for a population of about 200 million. this is grossly inadequate,’’ he said.

The psychiatrist emphasised the shortage of mental health facilities in Nigeria, saying that facilities are grossly inadequate, the budget for mental is very low, and there is even no enabling law for mental health practice.

This makes the theme for the 2020 Mental Health Day, “more access, greater funding’’ apt to the Nigerian situation,’’ he said.

Daramola said that, though the mental health statistics in Nigeria has been put at 25 per cent of the population, recent challenges might have increased it above the figure.

“Challenges of everyday life constitute stress, which results to mental health problems. It starts with things like sleep difficulty, inability to cope with colleagues at work, irritability.

“In Nigeria, officially we have about 25 per cent of the population suffering from mental health challenges, but recent issues like the COVID-19 and economic problems could have increased it to 40 per cent,’’ he said.

He said the challenge of mental health could start even during pregnancy.

He added that a child who is separated from the parents before the age of 12 is also predisposed to mental challenge.

He cited early intervention and destigmatisation as effective ways to care for the ailment.

“If we become more supportive and more empathetic to mental health patients, the world will be a better place,’’ he said.

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