In a bid to crash suicide rates in the country, the Federal Ministry of Health has established the National Mental Health Programme to coordinate a national response and facilitate the development of relevant mental health policies, programmes and interventions.
Director of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Morenike Alex-Okoh disclosed this on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at a press briefing in Abuja.
Dr. Okoh described mental health as a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes his or her own ability, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community
She said the agenda of the Federal Ministry of Health fully aligned with the theme of the 2022 world mental health day tagged, “Making mental health and wellbeing a global priority”.
She also stated that, “people living with mental disorders are among the most underserved globally, with treatment gap ranging between 55% and 85% in high and low-income countries respectively and contribute about 28% to the Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) arising from non-communicable diseases.
“It has also been often reported that people with mental illness experience human rights violations, discrimination, and stigma”, Dr. Okoh said.
In addition, the health expert noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated mental health problems due to disease experience, physical distancing, stigma and discrimination, and job losses in many of the settings worst hit by the pandemic.
Also, she informed that the pandemic led to an increased prevalence of anxiety and depression by 25% and the impact was expected to linger beyond the pandemic. “The pandemic also impeded access to mental health services and has raised concerns about increase in suicidal behavior.
“Towards making mental health a priority and in recognition of the growing burden of mental health illness which was worsened by COVID-19, the Federal Ministry Health has established the National Mental Health Programme, to coordinate a national response and facilitate the development of relevant mental health policies, programmes and interventions in Nigeria.
In addition, she disclosed that the Federal Ministry of health through the National Mental Health Programme has developed a national suicide prevention strategic framework.
Dr. Okoh also disclosed that the Programme has, “facilitated the finalization of WHO implementation toolkit for the integration of mental health care into care of people affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases in the primary health care setting,
“Initiated collaboration with NPHCDA to integrate mental health care with other services at PHC level,
“Commenced advocacy for the inclusion of mental health care in the basic package for implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund,
“and, in collaboration with stakeholders, reviewed the national mental health policy and commenced the development of a strategic implementation plan”.
On his part, National Coordinator, National Mental Health Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Tunde Ojo, while fielding questions from journalists said the government had started the suicide prevention framework.
Speaking on the status of the Mental Health Bill, he said “the bill is gone through the National Assembly and it awaiting the President’s assent and we are very hopeful about that.”