A Consultant Psychiatrist, Prof. Taiwo Sheikh, on Friday called on government at all levels, non-governmental organisations and the private sector to really consider mental health as a priority.Sheikh, the immediate past president of Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN) made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.He said there is need for serious investments in mental health care because to avoid crisis.Sheikh said that governments should pay attention to mental health of the citizens by ensuring the availability of quality mental health facilities and services.He decried the poor state of the few existing psychiatric and urged government at all levels to intensify more efforts towards the establishment of more psychiatric hospitals across the country.“When you look at mental health programming within Nigeria, traditionally like anywhere else in the world, it has been poorly funded over the years.“Most states in the country do not have a functional psychiatric hospital, while our few existing psychiatric hospitals are dilapidated, and we have very few specialised cadres,” he said.Sheikh said that the establishment of more psychiatric hospitals became necessary due to the increasing cases of mental illness in the country as the mental health facilities available were inadequate to cater for the rising cases.The psychiatrist attributed the rising cases of mental illness to drug abuse, stress, economic downturn, unemployment, inadequate finances, depression and effects of COVID-19 pandemic.He decried the majority of the health care institutions in the country who paid less attention to mental illness cases.According to him, mental health services are barely accessible outside the state capitals, adding that there is urgent need to establish mental healthcare facilities at the grassroots.He said, “Example is the lower funding for mental illness research or fewer mental health services relative to other health care services.“Look around, we have got over 50 government hospitals looking after pregnant women.We have thousands of private hospitals and maternal homes for women and children.“But, how many mental health facilities are in Nigeria with a population of over 217 million people?They are very few; even most states in the country do not have a functional psychiatric hospital,’’ he said.The professor said that government may not be able to do enough in tackling the menace of mental health because it does not have enough resources for that.“While the government is doing what it can, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and individuals must come together to address the treatment gap in mental health and provide facilities for those who need treatment before they fall into wrong hands.He appealed that people living with mental health conditions have continued access to treatment and care.“A failure to take people’s mental and emotional wellbeing seriously will lead to long-term social and economic costs to society,” Sheikh said.NewsSourceCredit: NAN
Promoting mental health for national development Promoting mental health for national developmentBy Ikemefuna-Taire Okudolo, News Agency of Nigeria Until recently recourse to suicide as a way of mitigating frustration, disappointment or hard feeling towards life’s expectations was very rare among Nigerians.
Though until recently, data on the number of Nigerians having mental challenges was not readily available, it is believed that Nigerians have a strong ‘shock absorber’ as they could cope with the toughest of mentally challenging situations.
According to Psychiatry.
org, the official website of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), mental health denotes the absence of behavioural, cognitive and emotional wellbeing which makes a person’s thoughts, mood, behaviour, regulation and discernment not to conform to acceptable known standards.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) 2019 survey indicated that 1 out of every 8 person in the globe suffer one form of mental disorder with anxiety and depression being the common stressor of this illness.
In bringing the grim situation back home, in a 2021 report, WHO said one in four Nigerians, an average of 50 million people, is suffering from one mental challenge or another.
The UN world health agency said mental health issues has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic which restricted movement and trapped people in their homes for several month resulting in changes in behavioural patterns.
Experts say the leading mental disorders include anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, eating disorder, disruptive behaviour and dis-social disorder and Neuro-developmental disorders.
In Nigeria, depression is a major issue due to cultural bias that force victims not to speak out or seek professional attention.
Nigeria’s healthcare experts say mental health issues in Nigeria requires urgent attention by the different tiers of government with the Senate’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill proposed as at February of 2020 but yet to get the required institutional support to become a law as a pointer to how serious governments take the challenge.
Observers say for Nigerians to contribute more to national development, they should not only e physically health but also mentally fit.
According to the Medical Director, Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital at Yaba, Lagos, Dr Olugbenga Owoeye, said it is important that governments make the necessary investment in promoting the mental health of their citizens.
According to him, such investments should not only include funding of existing mental health institutions and making resources available for mental health research, but also addressing socio-economic challenges that expose Nigerians to risks of psychiatric conditions.
Similarly, Dr Veronica Nyamali, the Vice-President, Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), said Nigeria’s poor level mental health care to underfunding of researches on mental health by the appropriate authorities.
s. “Researches will help governments by providing the necessary data for planning, execution and evaluation of the physical, medical and human resources needs to boost the nation’s mental healthcare delivery services.
“It is Nigeria’s lack of data on mental health issues that is her greatest drawback to investment and effective management of this important aspect of our health care delivery,” she said.
Nyamali attributed depression, the nation’s most common mental health care challenge to economic challenges, which she said aggravates emotional and psychological trauma in citizens.
A Consultant Neuro-psychiatric doctor and the Medical Director at Pinnacle Medical Services, Dr Maymunah Kediri, said government and stakeholders should do more on mental health awareness campaign.
She said the high rate of stigma against those suffering from mental health in the country was frustrating the efforts to mitigate the problem.
“Investing more in public enlightenment against stigmatisation of mentally ill persons with a view to addressing disinformation and misinformation or contradict common negative beliefs of society to ostracise or eliminate people with mental disorder will go a long way in the efforts to curb the problem of mental illnesses,” physician said.
Also speaking, the immediate past president of the APN, and consultant psychiatrist, Prof. Taiwo Sheikh said drug abuse was a leading cause of mental health problem among young people and called on government to take concrete steps to curb the problem.
“The optimal functionality of our National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other law enforcement authorities charged with combating drug abuse and trafficking will help to a large extent to improve the mental health status of the citizens,” Sheikh said.
To Sheikh, the link between drug abuse and trafficking with mental health in Nigeria cannot be underrated as the former is the major stimuli for the high rate of depression and dis-social behaviour in the country.
He also said that governments across the country needed to evolve ingenious policy initiatives to support the training of medical professionals on mental healthcare and promote programmes that would encourage university admission seekers to study psychiatry to raise the numbers of professionals operating in the country.
Also, Retired Brig.-Gen. Gbenga Okulate, a one-time psychiatrist doctor with the Nigeria Military Hospital Yaba, Lagos, said one of the ways to reduce mental illness in Nigeria is to address the causes of some of the disorder such as the high inflation rate, poor salary and wages for workers.
“The increasing rate of suicide attempts in the country stems from frustration due to high cost of living, poverty, and emotional dislocation such as lack show of love to one another”, he said.
While it is the responsibility of governments to provide the enabling environment, observers say that addressing the challenge posed by mental health in the country should be a collective responsibility with individuals avoiding actions that expose them to risks of mental stress, while the culture of being good neigbhours which is fast disappearing should be embraced.
It is important that Nigerians imbibe the culture of regular health checks, which should include mental health evaluation.
(NANFeatures) *****If used please credit the author and News Agency of Nigeria
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, Professor Taiwo Sheikh, says that the psychiatric profession bears the brunt of the ongoing brain drain trend in Nigeria's medical sector.
Mr. Sheikh, immediate former president of the Nigerian Psychiatrists Association, APN, made the revelation in an interview with the Nigerian News Agency in Lagos on Thursday.
According to him, the effects of the brain drain impact more in practice than in other professions in terms of psychiatric nurses, psychiatric doctors including caregivers and health workers in the field.
He said that for every five psychiatric doctors trained in Nigeria, three of them leave the country to practice abroad.
Mr. Sheikh, also a professor at Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, lamented that the country had the requirements to train medical personnel but lacked the capacity to maintain, retain and sustain them.
The professor pointed out that having a psychiatric qualification, experience or certificate was a visa in itself because medical institutions abroad are always looking for such personnel and are ready to offer good or attractive remuneration.
“Many practitioners in the field of psychiatry have left the country to practice abroad.
“As I speak to you now, a psychiatric doctor somewhere is leaving or planning to leave the country to practice abroad, and it's as rampant as that.
“In Nigeria, we only have 300 psychiatric doctors and about 2,000 psychiatric nurses and they are moving.
“In the US alone, we have over 1,000 psychiatrists, not including nurses. Similarly, in the UK, Canada and the like, it's almost the same number.
“So more than 5,000 Nigerian psychiatric doctors are practicing outside the country to the detriment of the Nigerian economy,” Sheikh told NAN.
The NPC president, however, said that the psychiatric/mental health system has been ignored and neglected in the country.
Mr. Sheikh therefore called on the federal government to pay attention to the country's mental health system in order to prioritize the welfare of the doctors in it.
According to him, the reasons for the incessant migration of psychiatric personnel are not far-fetched.
He listed the reasons to include poor pay, neglect of mental health, lack of work facilities, poor working conditions, inflation, lack of incentives, insecurity due to economic hardship, among others.
“Although there are different reasons why people migrate, but if the basic ones can be provided, it will take a long time to retain many in the country.
“Society, particularly the government, must learn to recognize and appreciate mental health, because it is as important as physical health and there is no health without mental health.
“That the Federal Government signs the Mental Health Bill before the National Assembly; will go a long way in clearing the ground and creating recognition for mental health in Nigeria.
“The National Mental Health Service Delivery Policy needs to be reviewed, let it be reviewed,” Sheikh said.
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.
The Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), on Tuesday, said fake news on Covid-19 pandemic could cause significant emotional distress to Nigerians and increase the rate of mental health problems in the country.
Dr Taiwo Sheikh, National President, APN, said the pandemic was a stressful period with many Nigerians nursing the fear of being infected, losing loved ones or dying.
“The Association notes the impact of the novel Corona Virus Infection (COVID-19) as it presents new and unique challenges.
“The COVID-19 pandemic as a global crisis has also affected Nigerians in various ways
ranging from lifestyle changes, enforced shutdowns, economic losses, family dislocations and separations.
“Unfortunately, the situation is compounded by fake news, alarming reports and stories as well as videos, and pervasive media coverage that is causing significant emotional distress to many people.
“All of the above results in a situation where individuals who are vulnerable may develop mental health problems; while those with existing mental health challenges may experience the worsening of their symptoms.
“Thus, people may suffer in many ways without actually contracting the Covid-19 virus,” Sheikh said in a statement.
He stated that there was the need to anticipate and expect various traumatic and stress reactions as people responded differently to the Covid-19 situation.
He highlighted some of the adverse psychological and behavioural responses as sleep disturbances, reduced feelings of safety, scapegoating, increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other psychoactive substances.
He said other behavioural responses were physical complaints, such as lack of energy and general aches and pains, and increased use of medical resources.
“There are anxieties and feelings of helplessness over the loss of control around our personal lives, with additional uncertainties over how long this situation will last and when it will be over.
“All these impact those without and with existing mental health issues,” he said.
The consultant psychiatrist said there was the need to step up activities to mitigate deleterious emotional and physical health, economic and financial consequences and importantly prevent further spread of the virus in the country.
He said psychiatrists and other mental health professionals had roles to play in various teams being set up at the national and states levels to provide emotional and psychosocial supports to all.
“We need to provide support to affected individuals, their family members, healthcare providers, particularly those at the frontlines who may be more at risk during and after the period of quarantine, self isolation or lockdown.
“We wish to emphasise at this point that comprehensive tackling of the illnesses, complications and consequences of COVID-19 requires mental health multidisciplinary approach.
“We need to develop strategies of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria while maintaining linkage to international partners and colleagues, “he said.
Sheikh urged Nigerians to manage their media and information intake by getting factual information from NCDC and Ministry of Health approved sites to help them take reasonable precautions.
“It may help to only check the news at set times or limit yourself to a couple of checks a day. 24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried,” said Sheikh.
He also urged Nigerians to be responsible by observing preventive instructions, to also remain calm and control their anxiety to avoid prolonged stress that could have negative effect on their immunity.
Edited By: Nick Nicholas/Salif Atojoko
The Association of Psychiatrists in Nigerian (APN) has decried the dearth of psychogeriatric units in major health facilities in the country.
Its President, Dr Taiwo Sheikh, spoke on Wednesday at the 2nd Scientific Meeting of the association with the theme: “Current Trends in Psychogeriatric Practice in Nigeria” in Abeokuta.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, says “Psychogeriatric or psychiatry of old age, is a subspecialty of psychiatry dealing with the study, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders in humans with old age.
“As the population ages, particularly in developing countries, this field is becoming more needed.
“The diagnosis, treatment and management of dementia and depression are two areas of this field.
“Geriatric psychiatry is an official subspecialty in psychiatry with a defined curriculum of study and core competencies.’’
Sheikh said that there were not enough experts to deal with the issues of the elderly people that have brain problems, saying that more still need to be done.
The psychiatrist added that there was need for fully developed strategies to address the problem of the elderly people.
According to him, the Public Health Bill, when signed into law, will address the issues of elderly people with brain problems and other challenges bedeviling the health sector.
“In terms of preparedness to cater for these elderly people, we are not there yet to say we have fully developed strategies to address the problem of the elderly people.
“When the Public Health Bill that we call Mental Health Bill becomes law, it will seek setting up of a commission for mental health.
“And that commission would now use the power conferred on it, by that law, to employ, at all levels of care, primary, secondary and tertiary care to have a section for psychogeriatric, including community care.
“For the community care, people will have community health extension workers that identify and take care of the elderly, spending 70 per cent of their time with them,” he said.
Sheikh noted that, currently, there are few geriatric units in stand-alone psychiatric hospitals and teaching hospitals, adding, “there are only eight of them in the country”.
The expert added, “for a population of about 200 million people, it is insignificant. It is like a drop of water in the ocean.”
He, however, advised people to live well during their youthful years saying, “the quality of life you lead when you are much younger is what will manifest in your old age”.
Also, Dr Adefolakemi Ogundele, Chairman, Local Organising Committee, said the 2020 theme was intended to gear doctors up to critically review the preparedness for future and focus on the gaps in their areas of practice.
Ogundele noted that there was an increase in the mental health needs of older people.
“The complexity of geriatric psychiatry as well as the current state of its practices and trends in Nigeria requires an urgent review,” the chairman.
Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye
By Lucy Osuizigbo
Awka, Jan. 14, 2020 A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Taiwo Sheikh, on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to decriminalise suicide to reduce its high rate in Nigeria.
Sheikh, who works with the College of Health Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, told the Nigeria News Agency , that Nigeria has no suicide prevention programmes, hence suicide was criminalised.
NAN reports that Section 327 of the Criminal Code Act criminalises attempted suicide and it carries a penalty of up to one year in prison.
Sheikh, also President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), said suicide was the leading cause of death among young people in the age bracket of 18 to 25 years.
According to him, out of every three people who plan to commit suicide, one of them is a student or a youth.
“We cannot continue to fold our hands and do nothing while the younger generation, the future leaders of our country, are dying.
“If you don’t decriminalise suicide, someone who attempted suicide and did not succeed will make sure he succeeds, because of the penalty he or she will face,” he said.
Sheikh decried the 1916 Colonial Lunacy Act which he said was still operational in the country.
The expert said that the old law does not conform to universal mental health standard.
“That Lunacy Law fails to define mental health disorders.
“It has no clear posture toward dissocial personality, psycho-pathy or substance use disorders as important considerations in the elucidation of mental disorders from a psycho-legal point of view.
“There is a newly proposed legislation named Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill before the National Assembly, which reflects reality of the present time.
“The bill, which has passed its first and second reading, at the National Assembly, if passed, will help to reposition the health sector to meet the emerging modern mental health challenges.
“It will grant the human rights of mental patients and ensure that they have access to qualitative care in all mental health or psychiatric facilities,” he said.
Sheikh urged the Federal Government to implement mental health promoting legislations, decriminalise suicide, as well as establish suicide prevention strategy in the country.
The Britain, who initiated the Lunacy Act of 1916 which is still operational in Nigeria, has abolished criminalisation of suicide by the Suicide Act of 1961.
The abolition of such laws is premised on the principle that a man owns his own life, not the government.
He has a right to it, until such time he does not have the reasonable capacity to make sound decisions for that life.
According to the Law, People with mental health issues require empathy, not force.
Edited by: Folasade Adeniran/Olagoke Olatoye
The Association of Psychiatrist in Nigeria says that passing of the National Mental Health Bill into law will help reposition the health sector to meet emerging modern challenges.
“It will also in general terms enhance the mental health and well-being of all Nigerians,’’ the President of the Association, Dr Taiwo Sheikh, told newsmen in Enugu on Sunday.
Sheikh was speaking after the inaugural meeting of the newly returned executive of the association held at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu.
He said that the bill, which had passed its first and second reading, was at the public hearing stage at the National Assembly.
He said that it would grant the human rights of mental patients and ensure that they have access to qualitative care in all mental health or psychiatric facilities.
“It is supposed to guaranty the human rights and properties of people who are mentally ill and ensure they have access to effective, humane and culturally sensitise treatments.
“It will task government on the funding for mental health; certain percentages of the National Health Fund should be dedicated to mental health.
“It will also task government on training of mental health professionals of different cadre such as mental health consultants, doctors, nurses, community healthcare providers as well as psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.
“It will also task government on the ratio of recruitment of mental health workers at every government-owned facility.
“It will task government in integrating mental health to the Primary Healthcare system and other grassroots healthcare programmes,’’ he said.
He explained that the existing law backing mental health and its practice in the country was outdated.
“The 1914 Lunacy Law copied from the English Laws was still the main basis of mental health and psychiatric practice in the country, which is abnormal, regressive and not all-compassing by modern terms,’’ he explained.
Sheikh, who is with the Department of Psychiatry, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, however, called for the implementation of Nigeria National Mental Healthcare Policy, which was adopted by the Federal Government in 2013.
He noted that the policy seeks to go beyond treatment or cure of mental health patients to activities and programmes of mental well-being promotions, mental illness prevention and universal access to mental healthcare.
According to him, all these three focal areas are the modern and best practice line of thinking in the medical world.
“Mental illness prevention is having activities and programmes meant to inform people of the signs and symptoms to watch out for and report to their doctor immediately, if need be.
“It can be sleeplessness at night, over indulgence on drug abuse and alcoholism, depression and constant negative thoughts etc,’’ he said.
It would be recalled that abnormalities that lead to mental illness is expanding daily within the society.
These included; suicide attempt, depression, sleeplessness, unnecessary aggression and agitations, inordinate quests or aspirations that hurt oneself or others and unnecessary attack on the environment and animals.
Edited by: Edwin Nwachukwu/Ismail Abdulaziz