The Federal Government has said an estimated 40 million Nigerians are believed to be suffering from mental disorders.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, stated this on Monday at the ongoing mental health action committee and stakeholders workshop in Abuja.
Abdullahi blamed the country’s high burden of mental disorders to inadequate attention paid to mental illnesses, misconceptions and lack of awareness on the part of the Nigerian public.
He said more people will be disabled by psychological challenges than complications arising from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents, and wars combined by the year 2020.
He identified ways of addressing the country’s mental health burden to include: fast-tracking the enactment of the Mental Health Act as well as the resuscitation of the national mental health action committee for the coordination of stakeholders’ activities on mental health and psychosocial supports in the country.
He said: “In Nigeria, an estimated 20%–30% of our populations are believed to suffer from mental disorders. This is a very significant number considering Nigeria has an estimated population of over 200 million.
“Unfortunately, the attention given to mental health disorders in Nigeria is inadequate. The level of awareness of the Nigerian public on mental health issues is also understandably poor and with lots of misconceptions.
“By 2020, it is estimated that common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse-related disorders, will disable more people than complications arising from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents, and wars combined! This is an astonishing statistic and possesses serious questions as to why mental health disorders are not given the needed attention that it currently receives.
“A policy for mental health services delivery was developed with several key provisions of the policy, including establishing a body at the Federal Ministry of Health to focus on Mental Health issues.
“Some of the pertinent issues is how to address and dialogue with stakeholders on the burden of mental health, intimate them on the Mental Health policy, identify ways to fast-track the enactment of the Mental Health Act and modalities for resuscitating the National mental health action committee for coordinating the activities of various stakeholders on mental health and Psychosocial supports in Nigeria.”