At least, 1,600 new cases of mental illnesses were registered annually at the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Ogun, Dr Lateef Sakeeb, a Senior Consultant of the hospital has said.
Sakeeb defined mental Illness as a problem of thought, emotion and behaviour that causes significant distress to the personality involved.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abeokuta on Monday that, the hospital also managed 4,000 cases of mental illnesses every year with a preponderance of male patients.
“Most of the cases are males, who also have comorbid mental illness – two mental illnesses together – especially substance-use problem,” he said.
The consultant noted that the hospital which had made a name for it over the years had hitherto enjoyed patronage from all over the country.
He, however, said with the opening of more psychiatry departments in many hospitals, patronage, “comes majorly from the South-West states.
“Before now, the catchment area for the Neuro-Pschiatric Hospital, Aro is all over the country.
“But because there has been opening up of many places like general hospitals, with Psychiatry Departments, most of our patients are now coming from the South-West zones.
“Though, we still have some cases coming from the East because of the name Aro has built and because we have the facility to cater for them; we have 560 beds,” he said.
Sakeeb said the hospital, being a tertiary institution, only served as referral for other tertiary institutions.
He added that the hospital collaborated with some primary healthcare facilities to see patients who would not want to visit a psychiatric setting.
“We have an understanding with the Sacred Hearts Hospital where we have some of our doctors attend to mental health cases, prescribed drugs and give preventive measures.”
In its efforts to reduce mental illness through enlightenment campaign, Sakeeb said the hospital engaged in a Mental Health Community Outreach programme.
He said that an advocacy group also visited different communities in the 20 local government areas across the state for mental health prevention programmes.
According to him, the programme which has been on for three years is targeted at treating minor mental illnesses and interact with community members on mental health issues.
The medical doctor noted that designated doctors and nurses had been trained to carry out public enlightenment campaign for people to know the causes, prevention and management of mental illness.
According to him, the people are also enlightened on how they can access quality healthcare.
“This is where we see some mental health cases; ranging from mild to moderate depression and general anxiety disorder and some other forms of anxiety.
“Other minor mental illness are discovered there. Some patients who are already getting better are also referred to the community so that they can be treated there.
He said the managers of the programme also had a way of interacting with the community to do mental health advocacy.
According to him, all these interventions are also aimed at reducing stigmatisation associated with mental illness and reduce the burden of illness on the facility, the relatives and the cost of treatment.