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Nigeria’s Mental health treatment gap at 90%, According to FG

Nigeria’s Mental health treatment gap at 90%, According to FG 

Dr. Tunde Ojo, the National Coordinator of the Federal Ministry of Health’s National Mental Health Programme, stated on Monday that the treatment gap in cases of mental illness is almost 90%.

Ojo made this statement during a news conference held in Abuja to mark the 2023 World Suicide Prevention Day, which had the subject “Creating Hope Through Action.”

World Suicide Prevention Day is observed annually on September 10 to increase awareness that suicide can be stopped.

The country’s government neuropsychiatry institutions have grown from eight to ten over the past two years, according to the Coordinator, and Nigeria has made strides in tackling issues like preventing suicide and people’s mental health.

“It is not just that they are not enough, but the truth is that that belongs to the past. The mental health treatment gap in Nigeria is like 90 per cent. It means that for every 10 people who need mental health services, only one of them is able to get it because with the few services that are available and with the few human resources, the japa syndrome, all of them are in the cities, but the major part of our population are in the rural areas.

“Our approach going forward is the integration of mental health into existing programmes, and the primary health care level because that is closest to the people, and that is a public health and that is destigmatising it and taking it to the last mile, and that is what I believe is the direction that the government of the country is taking,” he said.

He said the new National Mental Health Act will facilitate access to mental health for Nigerians.

“The act mandates the ministry to have a suicide prevention strategy and of course, suicide is everybody’s business. Just like mental health is everybody’s business. And so the suicide prevention strategic framework that we are working on will be finalised in the next couple of days, and we are going to validate that document. We don’t want to bring a document to the public that has not been validated. There is a process that every document goes through finalization and the last thing is the validation. That document is going to be validated this month.”

Ojo claimed that because suicide remains a legal offence, the legislation could not address the decriminalisation of suicide.

Ameh Abba, the founder and president of the Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative, also spoke during the occasion and stated that CSOs are striving to increase advocacy and awareness for suicide prevention in the nation.

“We want to open up access and also increase the support that this particular population of persons will enjoy in Nigeria and that can be achieved by the integration of mental health services at the grassroots level,” he said. 

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