The Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora has said that the Mental Health Bill is a panacea for the myriad challenges facing mental health problems in the country.
Mamora said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the 52nd annual general and scientific meeting of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (NPC).
He said the bill passed by the Assembly, if properly harnessed, would go a long way toward addressing mental health issues.
According to him, the current administration has focused its priority on the mental health of its citizens because of its importance in building a healthy nation.
“We recognize that the World Health Organization definition of mental health is a state of optimal physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of illness or disease.
“This fact is further established in mental health in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"We recognize that our nation is grappling with the increasing prevalence of mental health problems, including depression, psychoactive substance use, and rising suicide rates among our youth," he said.
He identified dementia as the top mental health challenge among older people in the country.
“We are also active witnesses to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is clear that it is associated with mental health consequences such as anxiety and depression.
“Psychological distress over uncertainties around infections, treatment, job loss, and other psychosocial stressors.
“It is gratifying to note that this year's AGSM theme is Mental Health and National Development in Nigeria: A Call to Action.
“No nation can achieve meaningful national development without healthy and productive citizens. And good health, of course, includes optimal emotional well-being, ”he said.
The minister said that the Federal Government recognizes that mental disorders, if left unchecked, represent a clear and potential danger to our collective sense of individual, family, community and national security.
“The second reason I'm glad to be here is the progress we've made on the mental health bill as we collaborate and partner with the association.
“Several consultative meetings and drafting workshops were involved for some years, until we finally reached this stage.
"The draft bill has achieved concurrence in both Houses of the National Assembly and has now been referred to the Executive for presidential approval," he said.
The association's president, Professor Taiwo Sheikh, told the Nigerian News Agency on the sidelines that mental health was a neglected topic in the country.
Sheikh said that mental health has long been neglected by individuals, communities and the government at all levels.
“Society stigmatizes mental illness. Stigma leads to exclusion and discrimination in such a way that no one wants to do anything with the person or the family.
“In fact, those of us who treat mental illness are also stigmatized. When we enter a public place, people start looking at us as if we are behaving like our patients, ”he said.