Dealing with mental health problems in Nigeria

Nigeria has a population of approximately 230 million people, in fact it is a boon for the country and a good market for local and foreign investors.

But my beloved country has 80 million people at risk for mental health problems.

Unfortunately, there are less than 200 professionals, trained and qualified with certificates to attend to this social issue, throughout our country.

Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik, coordinator / executive director of the Asido Foundation, a non-governmental organization, dropped this suggestion on Thursday at the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research in Yaba, Lagos.

Speaking during the launch of his book: Optimal Mental Health: A Daily Guide, Abdulmalik said that the World Health Organization has stated that one in four people is a victim at any time in their life.

According to him, worldwide, 10 percent of the population currently suffers in one way.

In Nigeria, there is a large gap between health workers and victims. He stated bluntly that statistics reveal that 80 percent of Nigerians have no access to mental health treatment.

The truth is, there are no properly trained and certified mental health professionals. Therefore, some untrained people could easily fool victims with the ability to heal them.

The level of poverty in our country is high. Many people think that there are undeserved miracles in churches, mosques, and traditional settings. This is not correct. We work for what we earn.

His words: “For example, in Akwa Ibom state, children are labeled as witches and sorcerers and sent to churches or healing centers, where they are chained and flogged, daily in an attempt to cure them of witches.”

He further explained that ignorance, shame, stigmatization, have led people to snub or abandon mental health victims for no reason, instead of taking them to the hospital to receive adequate medical care.

Asido’s scribe said that his non-governmental organization was born in order to carry out advocacy, networking, awareness-raising and empowerment of members of the public on issues related to it.

In his presentation, Professor B. L Salako, Director General of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research, praised Abdulmalik for writing a book on mental health and recommended that the book should be available to everyone.

Professor T. L Sheikh, National President of the Nigerian Association of Psychiatrists called on the government to provide an enabling environment for more people to attend trainings to become professionally certified mental health workers, in order to reduce the wide gap that currently exists in that sector.