According to Dr. Ibrahim Wakawa, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri, at least 50 million Nigerians are believed to be suffering from mental disorders. Wakawa raised the alarm on Wednesday at the unveiling of the Borno State Government Mental Health Strategic Implementation Plan in Maiduguri. Represented by Dr. Ibrahim Mshelia, a Mental Health Consultant at the hospital, Wakawa attributed the country’s high burden of mental disorders to the insurgency, lack of awareness and health facilities to handle such cases.
The CMD said that studies have shown that one among four Nigerians were suffering from mental or psychosocial, traumatic health problems. He explained that the hospital was providing healthcare services to about 30 million people in the North-East and other regions in the country. “At least 60 per cent of people attending primary health care have a mental disorder. Effective treatment and management of mental health can be delivered in primary health care,” Wakawa said. He commended the government for setting up a mechanism aimed at making mental health affordable and accessible to all.
Dr. Owili Collins, the Emergency Manager, World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, said the organisation was working with the state and federal governments to improve mental health through various interventions. Represented by Mr Isaac Bwatin, a WHO Mental Health Officer, Collins said the organisation had trained 154 primary healthcare workers, staff on common signs of mental illness in order to provide humanitarian services to the persons displaced by Boko Haram. He said that WHO had received a grant from the European Union to upgrade and rehabilitate the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital in Maiduguri to enhance the quality of services to the people.
“WHO is working on a long term plan with the Borno state and Federal Government to transform mental healthcare in the country through the implementation of the plan and interventions within the framework. He lamented that the horror lost, uncertainty and experience related to displacement and loss of livelihood had made people to be affected by mental health. “The insurgency in the North-East has resulted in a large volume of populations to develop mental illness,’’ said the WHO official. He listed some of the mental health problems to include depression, psychosis and pros-traumatic disorder.