Nigerians are prone to mental illnesses, Psychiatric Association says

The Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN) claims that Nigerians are prone to mental illnesses due to the visible hardships in the country.

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The President of the Psychiatric Association of Nigeria, Prof. James Taiwo Obindo made the revelation in Abuja while giving an overview of the constitutional amendment, particularly as it affects punitive measures for suicide attempts , the Corrections Bill, and advocating for the passage of the Mental Health and Addictions Bill.

He said about 60 percent of Nigerians have been documented to have significant mental illness with fewer mental health workers (psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists) in the country to treat and manage patients. , because more than half of they were attracted by foreign countries.

He said, “We don’t have enough mental health workers in the country, and even the few we have are all drawn out of the country.

We have about less than three hundred psychiatrists.

The prescribed number is such that we should have no less than 1 to about ten thousand individuals.

But what we have is 0.

4 about tens of thousands of individuals; four psychiatrists for every one million Nigerians.

The psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, psychologist, social worker and occupational therapist work as a team.

There are also few psychiatric hospitals.


Obindo pointed out that the continued shortage of fuel across the country, economic hardship, coupled with the level of insecurity, could likely cause the majority of Nigerians to suffer from mental illness.

“Over the past few years, Nigerians have faced issues such as kidnappings, attacks, socio-economic downturns, etc.

The recent fuel shortage – one individual had to queue for more than three hours to buy fuel at a higher price – is a major stressor for Nigerians.

You know that stress is a major predisposing factor to mental illness.

If well-being is affected such that an individual is unable to fulfill their potential or finds it difficult to work effectively or contribute to society, and to overcome the normal stresses of life, then one cannot say that the person is mentally healthy.

If you look at this and compare it around the world, we have a greater predisposition to developing mental illness.

said Professor Obindo.

He urged the government to decriminalize suicide attempts and that instead of punishing people who attempt suicide, they should be sent for medical treatment.

“This bill is about having a humane and globally accepted way of caring for those who are mentally ill; what should be done and how the government is supposed to fund and ensure the well-being of people with mental illness.

“One of the other areas that needs to be looked at is indictable offense CAP 237, which criminalizes those who attempt suicide, and which needs to be removed immediately.

Those who attempt suicide are sentenced to one year in prison.

Do we punish them for being sick or for the socio-economic problems of the country? No, we shouldn’t.

What needs to be done is that they are referred for medical care – a psychiatric evaluation.

Even Ghana, Kenya, have decriminalized suicide attempts.

We implore the good people of the country and all stakeholders to stand up and ensure that the sick among us are treated properly and humanely? He said.

He also urged the Nigerian government to swiftly enact the Mental Health Bill to protect the right of people with mental illness in society to be treated humanely and with care.

“The Lunacy Act views people with mental illness as aggressive, harmful and someone who should be kept in an asylum, away from the community.

Rather than caring for the mentally ill, the law tends to protect the community against them.

Therefore, we felt that this law needed to be revised.

As we speak, the Mental Health Bill has passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and has been harmonized, and is now before the President for his assent.

This happened between 2020 and early 2021.”


Obindo said.

The president also said that “about 90% of those who attempt suicide are known to have psychiatric problems.

Of that 90%, 80% are the result of depression.

Others are due to the socio-economic conditions of the country.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people is at risk of developing a mental illness.

20-30% of documented Nigerians are labeled as suffering from severe mental illness.

Since we are talking about a population of over 200 million people, we are looking at between 40 and 60 million Nigerians with this disease.

He added that Nigerians suffered from severe mental illness.

Nigerians are prone to mental illnesses, Psychiatric Association says

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