Dr Olusola Ephraim-Oluwanuga, the Chief Consultant Psychiatrist, National Hospital, Abuja, has decried the poor attention given to the growth and development of mental healthcare services and institutions in Nigeria.
She she revealed that the eight mental health institutions available in the country have been in use since the colonial era.
Oluwanuga said that the Federal Government has since relied on these institutions without finding new and better ways to expand service delivery with the increasing population of the country.
“Since the colonial era, we have had eight psychiatric hospitals in the country only and this is where most of the resources concerning mental health are deposited.
“We are all aware that only this number of institutions cannot serve the large populace adequately. Imagine that there is one institution in Maiduguri and that is all for the North East.
“There is also only one in Sokoto and that is all for the North West. That cannot help as much as if services are available at the primary healthcare level.
“State hospitals and teaching hospitals are supposed to have psychiatric departments.
“There is need for outreach posts in local governments so that these services can be extended to people at the grassroots,” Oluwanuga said.
She said that pockets of crisis taking place in the country and around the world have reinforced the need to give more attention to the development of mental healthcare services.
Oluwanuga said that with each crisis, the number of individuals who suffered psychological trauma increased, adding that at least one in four persons suffered some form of psychological trauma.
She said that although HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases needed to be given attention, agencies of government and international organisations need to turn attention also to development of mental healthcare in the country.
She also called for the implementation of the mental health policy to strengthen institutions and improve service delivery.