The federal government has been urged to pass the mental health act into law to enable citizens have better access to mental healthcare which would address insecurity and kidnappings across the country.
A health-based non-governmental organisation, LAN Health, made the appeal at a one-day I-care symposium on mental health and drug abuse awareness at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Kubwa in Abuja at the weekend.
The founder, Dr Nkechi Mbaezue, stated that mental health and drug abuse was an epidemic in Nigeria, adding that due to conflicts, 1 in 5 persons will have mental illness.
She said if the bill was passed into law, there would be an increase funding and resources for mental health.
“It will improve on the lives of Nigerians because right now, we don’t have personnel; no enough psychiatrist/hospitals, councillors, trained personnel to handle the mental health epidemic,” she noted.
She said most substance use begins with youths from the ages of 13-14 before advancing to Schizophrenia with its effect manifesting around age 20 upwards.
She added: “We brought this advocacy to NYSC because they are the youth who we really need to reach out to. We will go down to secondary schools because most substance use start from the ages of 13-14 but its effect start manifesting around 20; that is Schizophrenia. So, we are ensuring that they get adequate awareness.”
Also speaking, the co-Founder of LAN Health, Angela Brown noted that lots of people have serious problems but are silent to avoid being stigmatised.
Brown noted that the government could help address stigma by signing the mental health bill to law.