Mental Health in Nigeria

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The mental health problem is global and millions of people are affected. It exists in Nigeria such that it has become a public health issue, yet the mental health system in Nigeria appears to be inept in meeting the needs of sufferers of mental illnesses. This paper discusses the increasing importance of mental illness as a public health concern globally with particular emphasis on the Nigerian mental health issue. It is organised into various sections discussing the global mental health problem; the Nigerian mental health problem and system. It concludes with global guidelines in mental health and personal recommendations. Introduction

Mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” (WHO 2011). Despite the dearth of required attention due it, mental health forms a vital aspect of overall health. The global prevalence of mental illness is enormous with 450 million people affected(1). 14% of worldwide disease burden is attributed to mental illness as an entity(2). A relationship is known to exist between mental and physical illness as individuals with mental illnesses are known to be more predisposed to physical illnesses(4). The most affected persons have been found to be located in developing nations (75%) and have only marginal accessibility to the necessary care and services(4). World health Mental Survey Consortium 2004 (WMHS2004), states that the health service gap for mental disorders was 35.5-50.3% of severe conditions in developed nations and 76.3%-85.4% in developing nations(1). Glaringly evident is the extent of the unmet need for mental health service in developing nations, Nigeria not being an exception. Earliest recognition for mental health internationally came about in the 1990’s with the World Development Report (1993) by the World Bank.(5). It exhibited the global burden of disease caused by mental disorders and revealed that the burden from mental illness was substantial in low-and-middle resource nations, regardless of prevalence of infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases. The 2001 World Health Report; New Understanding, New Hope (WHO 2001b) was also a document of significance in the field of Mental Health; equally highlighting fresh evidence as regards the burden of neuropsychiatric disorders and the dearth of efficient response mechanisms in developing nations. It was accompanied by recommendations for future interventions(6). As a consequence of the two-fold health burden in developing nations, policies focussed on mental health programmes are still under-prioritized(5). There is, however, growing acknowledgement of the relevance of mental health as regards the overall wellbeing and health of the populace(5). Regardless of the growing awareness, it is apparent that the necessary wherewithal to advance mental health in developing nations is still severely lacking. National and local strategies for promotion of mental illness are practically non-existent or inefficiently executed(5). This apparent predicament as regards mental health issues has led to developing of innovative mental health programmes for low resource nations4. The WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) positions itself as one of such strategies towards improving service delivery for mental, neurological and substance use disorders (MNS Disorders) in all nations, with its primary focus on low-and-middle resource nations(4). The programme presents stakeholders with comprehensible and logical guidelines towards improving service delivery and also purposes to strengthen stakeholder obligations for effective resource provision for MNS Disorders(7). THE NIGERIAN CONTEXT

Even though mental health is a notable public health problem it suffers extensive governmental disregard. Effective solutions to the issue are yet...
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