The long-awaited mental health bill has passed, and stakeholders believe the bill will not only address Nigeria’s high suicide rate, but also help improve the mental health of Nigerians.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently confirmed that the number of people with mental illness has increased by 13%, with more than 1 billion people currently living with mental illness on the planet.
In Nigeria, the ratio of mental health workers to patients is so low that more than 90% of those who need care are not receiving care.
For example, Maymunah Kadiri, a consultant neuropsychiatrist, said that psychiatrists serving the more than 200 million Nigerian population are 1:1000, contrary to the WHO recommendation of 250 mental health workers. He told me he only had a doctor, and added that the brain drain had made things worse and he was almost out of money. of pocket.
For Kadiri, passing the Mental Health Bill into law is the right way to address mental health issues in Nigeria. “After her 65 years of using the 1958 Insanity Act, Nigeria has finally enacted a Mental Health Act that will improve mental health services in the country,” she affirmed.
Speaking about the benefits of the law, consultants said the law would make mental health services available in primary, secondary, and tertiary care facilities across the country.
“Unlike the Insanity Act of 1958, which is not only outdated but inhumane, the new Mental Health Act ensures human rights protection for people with mental illness. We will improve care by ensuring their right to participate in the formulation and by eliminating compulsory treatment, isolation and other forms of institutional restraint,” she said.
Similarly, Professor Taiwo Obindo, President of the Nigerian Psychiatrist Association (APN), said the new law was a victory for mental health care and practice in the country, saying that Nigeria now has the best medical care available. Added that it is part of the world. global practice.
The signing of the bill into law ensures that the Federal Department of Health will have a Mental Health Services Division and a Mental Health Fund. The law also provides for the establishment of human rights protections for people with mental health conditions, including prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, health care, and other social services, he added.
“Care is improved by ensuring the right of those receiving treatment to participate in the development of health care plans, by eliminating institutionalized compulsory treatment, segregation and other methods of restraint, and by expanding community-based coverage. The law also addresses how and how people with mental disorders are treated without stigma or discrimination,” he explained.