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30% of Nigerians struggling with mental health disorder — Psychiatrists

A psychiatrist says about 30 per cent of Nigerians are grappling with different mental health challenges.

He described mental health as a state of wellbeing in which an individual realises his potential and he is able to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and make a contribution to his community.

In an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Consultant Psychiatrist, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Dr. Dapo Adegbaju, said there must be a greater investment in mental health if Nigeria is serious about moving forward as a nation.

“In a study done in 2016, about 20 to 30 per cent of our population have mental health challenges.

“With the socio-economic issues that we are experiencing now in the country, more people are likely to come down with various mental illnesses.

“People fall into mental challenges, depending on each individual’s breaking point. We react differently to issues and situations, but the percentage of people coming down with the disorder is increasing,” he said.

He attributed the triggers to stress, depression, stigma, poverty, lack of social support, isolation, poor antenatal care for pregnant women, anxiety, mania, bipolar disorder and substance abuse, among others.

Adegbaju, however, said mental disorder is a health challenge that can be properly managed with the right approach.

“I also think the rate of recovery depends on the type of mental disorder we are dealing with and the severity. This could range from a few days to years.

“That notwithstanding, I have also seen people recover from it within two days.

“People falling into mental challenges depends on an individual’s breaking point. We react differently to issues and situations but the percentage is increasing,” he said.

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The consultant psychiatrist also said most victims find it hard to open up on what they are passing through for fear of being victimised at work or seen as weak.

“Mental healthcare should also be accessible to everyone. The government can help by investing more in mental health through the employment of more professionals like psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, medical social workers and occupational therapists.

“We cannot underestimate our mental health because, without it, there is actually no health. It is also stated that as time goes on, mental health will constitute a great burden across disease spectrum all over the world,” he warned.

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