In recent years, mental health issues have become a growing concern. The country is home to over 200 million people, and according to the World Health Organization, one in fours will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, mental health is not given the same attention as physical health, and there is a lack of resources and infrastructure to support those who are struggling with mental health issues. Stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental illness also prevent many people from seeking help.
Pottage of Health spoke with some mental health experts to give their Professional views on the issue and what the Government must do to check this condition.
Aisha Lawal a mental health advocate based said, “The issue of mental health is very serious,many people are suffering in silence because they fear being stigmatized or ostracized by their communities.”
Lawal is one of many mental health professionals and advocates who are working to raise awareness about the importance of mental health care. She says that more needs to be done to break down the barriers to accessing care and to educate people about the realities of mental illness.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the mental health crisis. Lockdowns and restrictions have led to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, and the economic impact of the pandemic has left many struggling to access basic necessities, let alone mental health care.
Another mental health expert Tunde Adeyemi, a Lagos-based psychologist talked about the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health, according to him, “the pandemic has brought to light the urgent need to address mental health issues, many people who were already struggling with mental health issues have been pushed to the brink by the pandemic. We need to ensure that mental health care is available to everyone who needs it.”
The government has recognized the need to address the country’s mental health crisis and has taken steps to improve access to care. In 2013, the National Mental Health Policy was developed, but implementation has been slow. Mental health care is still not widely available, and the few available services are often underfunded and understaffed.
“The government needs to do more to prioritize mental health care,” says Adeyemi. “We need more funding, more trained professionals, and more resources to provide the care thats need.”
There is hope, however, as more attention is being paid to mental health. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Private companies are also stepping up to provide mental health support for their employees.
“We’ve seen a lot of progress in recent years in terms of raising awareness about mental health,” says Lawal. “But there is still a long way to go. We need more investment in mental health care and more support for those who are struggling with mental illness.”
In addition, mental health professionals are calling for more investment in mental health care and the implementation of the National Mental Health Policy. With increased support, access to care can be improved, and the mental health crisis can be addressed.
“I think it’s important for the government to prioritize mental health care because it affects so many people,” says Osazee Alex, a mental health counselor. “People are suffering every day because they can’t access the care they need. We need to do more to help them.”
It is important that the government, NGOs, and private companies work together to address mental health issues. The country cannot afford to ignore this crisis any longer, and action must be taken to provide the necessary support for those struggling with mental illness.
“Everyone deserves access to quality mental health care,” says Adeyemi. “We need to work together to make that a reality.”