COVID-19 worsens poverty, mental illness – Psychiatrists
… Like retirement hospital educates students about mental health
By Chioma Obinna
As Nigerians joined the rest of the world to mark World Mental Health Day 2021 with the theme: ‘Mental health in an unequal world’, leading psychiatrists decried the state of mental health in Nigeria , lamenting that COVID-19 has increased poverty and poor mental health among Nigerians.
In their submissions at an event hosted by The Retreat Hospital, Ikorodu, Lagos, they argued that although the pandemic has increased awareness of mental illness, Nigeria has not invested in mental health, which makes it impossible for more than 75 percent of Nigerians with mental disorders to access treatment.
According to The Retreat’s Managing Director, Dr Olufemi Oluwatayo, the coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented level of poverty around the world and the disparity between rich and poor has increased dramatically.
Unfortunately, he noted, âInequality and poverty have been associated for decades with poor mental health and disturbed psychological well-being.
According to him, with the rate of mental disorders generally being higher in people of low socioeconomic background, COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of both rich and poor, thereby increasing the burden of poor mental health in the country. Nigeria and the country. world in general.
Noting that many countries are investing more in mental health, Oluwatayo regretted that Nigeria did nothing. âWhere is the investment of our government and private investors? How can we meet the challenges of the growing burden of mental health on our nations? Where are the smart ideas and solutions? He inquired.
Stating that The Retreat opened its doors to patients in 2017 to provide essential mental health services to Nigerians, Oluwatayo said the hospital is currently setting standards for mental health services and contributing its quota to health service delivery. mental health in Nigeria.
At the event attended by high school students from different schools in Lagos, consultant psychiatrist Dr Femi Olugbile, who spoke out against the state of mental health services around the world, told Nigeria that the picture was “darker than ever”.
According to him, most episodes of mental illness in Nigeria go unaddressed and untreated, leaving an army of “ambulant casualties” among the population performing the rituals of daily life. He said the issue of inequality as depicted in the theme of World Mental Health Day is very important because between nations, individuals, resources are not evenly distributed.
Olugbile, who said that all categories of mental illnesses exist in both the rich and the poor, lamented that extreme poverty exists in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Nigeria and the world as a whole, being a factor vulnerability for many diseases.
He said it was an unassailable common sense solution that primary health care, including basic mental health care, deployed and made available virtually at the doorstep of every citizen.
In his presentation titled: âMental Health in a Changing World: Mental Health Initiativeâ, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Behavioral Medicine, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Prof. Ayodele Olurotimi Coker which found that over 75% of Nigerians with mental health problems do not have access to treatment advising people to be happy and balance all dimensions of health to keep them happy. He emphasized the need for physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being to self-actualize and enjoy beauty and a quality life. âIn addition to improving our mental health, we must consciously seek meaning and purpose in life to make our life joyful. He lamented that mental illness affects the productivity and efficiency of Nigerians when they adopt the learned helplessness model.
âThe COVID-19 pandemic will not go away anytime soon; rates of mental illness associated with the pandemic could continue to rise. Policy makers should think about mental health surveillance and routine screening for common mental health disorders in PHC. They urgently need to train, hire and involve other health workers (nurses, social workers, community health workers, religious leaders, mental health NGOs and life coaches in evidence-based counseling methods to help manage the expected increase in mental health problems.
Mental health care should be integrated into primary and secondary health care as soon as possible. Calling for awareness, he revealed that one in ten people suffer from generalized anxiety such as panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and stress. In addition, 350 million people suffer from depression, 46 million have bipolar, 20 million schizophrenia, 970 million drug addiction, and one person commits suicide every minute.
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