“One in four Nigerians have one form of mental disorder”

"One in four Nigerians have one form of mental disorder"

Mental health experts have raised an alarm over increased cases of mental disorder in Nigeria and have called for adequate facilities and personnel to curb it.

Mental disorder, also called mental illness, psychological disorder, or psychiatric disorder, is mental or behavioural pattern that causes either suffering or poor ability to function in ordinary life.

The causes of mental disorder are often unclear but common causes include drug abuse, depression, dementia, schizophrenia, as well as stigma and discrimination.

The mental health experts who expressed their views in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria said about one in four Nigerians have one form of mental disorder or the other.

Professor Oye Guruje, a psychiatrist with University of Ibadan, said government should give priority attention to the management of mental disorder because its burden outweighed that of HIV.

He said “mental illness is one of the major contributors to disease burden globally; it is the sixth largest burden worldwide and this is much more burdensome than HIV.

“In Nigeria, one out of seven persons will have serious mental illnesses, while one in four persons will have some form of mental disorder; and this is a conservative estimate,” he said.

Mr. Guruje, who said that mental illnesses could be treated with the right care, noted that “every mental disorder has some form of treatment; but whether the person will fully recover depends on the type of illness.

“For example, dementia has no effective treatment yet, while there are effective treatments for depression, including non-medication like psychological treatment.’’

He added that while there were no specific causes of some mental illnesses, some might be hereditary, while some could be due to stress or lifestyle.

On his part, Oyewole Adeoye, the National Coordinator of Mental Health Awareness Foundation of Nigeria, said mental health policies should recognise and address issues that affect mental health.

He said “there is increased incidences of mental illnesses in Nigeria and the society is yet to take full control of the fact.

“Mental disorder is associated with societal vices, socio-economic pressures, emotional problems and political injustice like terrorism.”

Mr. Adeoye said people with mental health problems should not become outcasts in the society, rather, they should be treated like any other form of disease and accorded respect and dignity.

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