By Asmau Ahmad
The President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the harmonised Mental Health Bill into law.
The Bill, which was harmonised by the Senate and House of Representatives in 2021, will replace the Lunacy act of 1958.
The President of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), Prof Taiwo Obindo, who confirmed the signing, described it as a great relief to the mental health care and practice in the country.
“A final culmination to over two decades of several efforts by the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria now has an Act/Law on Mental Health governance and we are now part of the global space with best global practice.”
A former president of the APN, Prof Taiwo Shielk also appreciated God for the signage of the Mental Health Bill has been signed into law by President Buhari.
Thanking key players in the process, Prof. Shielk said, “Our profound gratitude to Senator Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Senator Ahmad Abubakar, Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, CBM International, Johnson & Johnson, and all our partners. After several attempts, by His Grace, we finally reached the milestone.”
With the new law, the Lunacy Act of 1958 which practitioners condemn as outdated and inhumane, will cease to be effective.
The establishment of a Department of Mental Health Services in the Federal Ministry of Health and a Mental Health Fund are some of the provisions of the National Mental Health Bill.