Mental health professionals have called for more efforts against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria, ahead of the 2023 general election.They made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria to commemorate the World Drug Day on Sunday in Lagos.They said that stakeholders should collectively address the increasing rate of drug abuse and its corresponding devastating effects.NAN reports that the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, otherwise known as the World Drug Day, is marked annually on June 26.The day is aimed to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse.A psychiatrist, Dr Veronica Nyamali, said that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other law enforcement authorities should continually enforce their mandates and responsibilities against drug abuse.Nyamali, who is also the Vice-president, Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), said that NDLEA should focus more on prevention of drug abuse, considering its numerous devastating negative effects.She said that a strong synergy and interaction between the NDLEA and the mental professionals was required to check drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking.She said that a communication gap existed between the NDLEA and the mental health professionals, stressing that they ought to be on the same page on issues relating to prevention and health implications of drug abuse.She said, “Our justice system as well as the NDLEA operating system need to be overhauled for optimal performance.“Indeed, perpetrators must be punished according to the law of the land. This is the only way it will serve as a deterrent to others with similar horrible intentions.”The psychiatrist said that family was the pillar of society where people should learn morals, values and behaviours that could transform their lives to be responsible citizens.According to her, the moral upbringing of children is a primary responsibility of every parent.“We should be more watchful particularly now that the 2023 general election is drawing closer.“Electoral violence, snatching of ballot boxes, killing, kidnapping and lots of other social vices are being executed under the influence of drugs.“This is why it’s pertinent for the parents and the society as a whole to shield the youths away from getting involved with drugs.“As a parent, always monitor your children and keep a close watch on their activities because the young ones (youths) often used to perpetrate the acts are offspring of a parent,” Nyamali saidAlso, a consultant psychiatrist, Prof. Taiwo Sheikh, called for more security, monitoring and tightening of the country’s borders where some of these drugs were being exported and imported into the country.Sheikh, the immediate past president of APN, said that terminating the production and sources of the drugs were key in efforts to prevent drug abuse.According to him, if there is no supply of the drugs, there will be no demand for them.He said that government should continue to drive policies that would discourage people from getting involved in illicit drug use and trafficking.“The laws regarding drug abuse in the country should be reviewed, so as to have offenders duly punished. It will serve as deterrent to others.“All the enforcement agencies including the government should collaborate in efforts to curb drug because it requires multi-dimensional approach,” Sheikh said.NewsSourceCredit: NAN
A professor of psychiatry, Taiwo Sheikh, has urged Nigerians to cultivate the habit of caring for their mental health through regular check up and treatment.
Sheikh, also the immediate past President of Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos.
According to him, 90 per cent of Nigerians with mental disorders do not visit healthcare providers for attention and care.
He said that such attitude had detrimental effects on the individual and society at large.
Sheikh said that stigmatisation, poor recognition and less attention given to mental health in society were factors responsible for such attitude.
He said: “90 per cent of people who have mental disorders in our country, whether major or minor, do not get to see any psychiatric healthcare provider at all for relief of their symptoms.
“So, they are not diagnosed or treated; which is a shame, because they have a detrimental effect, not just on the individuals, but also on our society.
“Most people who have mental illnesses carry them about; it is like they are working wounded. So, they go to work and live their lives with it.
“They might not be disturbing other people, but they are under-performing at their tasks or they are making wrong decisions as a result of the illness.
“So, untreated mental illness, whether major or minor, carries a cost both for the individual and society.”
Sheikh also said that one in every five persons would at one point in their lifetime experience one type of mental illness or the other.
He said that most of the mental illnesses experienced by people were not psychotic such as hallucinations, schizophrenia, but were as a result anxiety, stress and depression.
“Those constitute the overwhelming majority of mental illnesses.
“They are very common and often missed because people do not even recognise them as mental illnesses, and they do not present themselves to healthcare providers.
“They do not present, sometimes, out of ignorance or just because the facilities for intervention are not available or not within their easy reach,” he said.
He said that there were approximately 200 psychiatrists in Nigeria due to brain drain which had continued to be a challenge in the country.
Sheikh who decried the poor state of the few existing psychiatric hospitals in the country, said that most states in the country did not have functional psychiatric hospitals.
“Aside that mental health facilities are not readily equipped and available across the country.
“Many Nigerian psychiatrists practised abroad because conditions of work in many Western countries are obviously more attractive than locally.
“Also, many young doctors prefer to specialise in areas they consider more ‘lucrative’ such as obstetrics and gynaecology rather than psychiatry.
“There is a need to properly equip mental health facilities and provide incentives that would attract more young doctors to show interest in psychiatry as a career in Nigeria,” he said.
Sheikh said that Nigeria should explore ways to creatively provide mental health services to a substantial number of people to curb the challenge posed in the provision of mental healthcare and maintenance of mental health.
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.