By Zayamu Hassan
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has called for more investment in mental health in order to increase accessibility, treatment and reduce stigma.
He stated this at a briefing to mark the 2022 World Mental Health Day in Abuja, Wednesday.
Ehanire noted that most mental health conditions can be effectively treated at relatively low cost, but, however, lamented that, “yet the gap between people needing care and those with access to care remains substantially wide and effective treatment coverage remains low.
“This necessitates an increased investment on all fronts for mental health awareness to increase understanding and reduce stigmatization of mental illness; to increase access to quality mental health care and effective treatments; and for research to identify new treatments and improve existing treatments for all mental health disorders.”
He explained that globally, the growing social and economic inequalities, conflicts, violence and public health emergencies affect whole populations, threaten progress towards improved wellbeing, giving rise to continuous increase in cases of suicide and other mental health illnesses.
This, according to him, has become a problem of serious concern requiring accelerated actions to improve mental health services delivery in the country.
“We must deepen the value and commitment we give to mental health as individuals, communities and governments and match that value with more commitment, engagement and investment by all stakeholders, across all sectors.
“We must strengthen our mental health care to improve accessibility, affordable and quality services and support for mental health services delivery in Nigeria,” Ehanire stressed.
In order to mitigate the burden of mental health disorders and ensure improved mental health services delivery, the Minister said his ministry developed a mapping tool to identify mental health stakeholders in Nigeria, as a prelude to strengthening multi stakeholder collaboration; facilitated the finalization of WHO implementation toolkit for the integration of mental health care into care of people affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases in the primary health care setting and initiated collaboration with NPHCDA to integrate mental health care with other services at PHC level.
Other initiatives by his ministry, the Minister said, include the commencement of advocacy for the inclusion of mental health care in the basic package for implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund; in collaboration with stakeholders, reviewed the national mental health policy and commenced the development of a strategic implementation plan.