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Psychiatrist Consultant Gives Startling Percentage Of Nigerians Suffering From Mental Illnesses

A renowned Psychiatrist Consultant at the Federal Medical Center, Gusau, Zamfara, Aremu Saad, disclosed that over 20 per cent of Nigerians is suffering from different forms of mental illnesses.

The consultant made this known on Thursday while addressing journalists, adding that many of the patients do not know that they were not well due to the carelessness of routine medical checks.

The psychiatrist said the amount was part of various mental health care researches conducted by experts in recent years. He said:

“We are also very sure that only about 20 per cent of those with the illness has violent tendencies and the illness is curable if medical care is given and the patient adheres to the doctor’s prescriptions.

The situation was further compounded by the non-passage of Mental Health Bill by the National Assembly.”

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Speaking about the causes, Aremu said mental illnesses could occur due to drug abuse, genetic transfer, depression, or even if one loses an election, like in recent times in Nigeria.

He then disclosed confidence in the passage of the bill on Mental Health, noting that it would address the issues of treatment, facilities, offenders who hide behind mental illness and stigmatisation among others.

Last year, the Federal Ministry of Health also revealed that about 20 to 30 percent of Nigerians are suffering from mental illness. The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Abdulaziz Abdullahi said this at the Mental Health Action Committee and Stakeholders’ Workshop in Abuja.

Abdullahi given a speech said, Nigeria had about 30% high rate of mental illness, constituting to about 60 million people out of the 200 million population. He said:

“There are many different mental disorders, with different presentations. They are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behavior, and relationships with others.

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Mental disorders include Depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychoses, dementia, intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders including autism.

In Nigeria, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of our populations are believed to suffer from mental disorders. This is a very significant number considering Nigeria has an estimated population of over 200 million.

Unfortunately, the attention given to mental health disorders in Nigeria is inadequate. The level of awareness of the Nigerian public on mental health issues is also understandably poor, and with lots of misconceptions.”

Moreover, Director of Public Health, Dr. Evelyn Ngige also explained that mental illness could destabilize a person more than HIV, heart disease, accidents, and wars combined.

She said Nigeria’s mental health statistics was too critical when observed, adding that the high rate of suicide in places like Lagos may just be the tip of the iceberg.

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Dr. Ngige further explained,

“In Nigeria, an estimated 20 -30 percent of our populations are believed to suffer from mental disorders, which is a very significant number.

Considering the current economic situation in the country, the above statistics are damning and in the light of the recent suicidal episodes recorded in parts of Lagos (which are obviously a tip of the iceberg), it forces a rethink in our general attitudes to mental health and questions our current maintenance of the status quo.”

However, the director made a confession that the committee on mental health had failed to achieve its goal because of lack of funds.

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