Prof. Olayinka Omigbodun, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Head of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Department at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, says more than 1,680 cases of mental illness were treated in the facility in the last one year.
Omigbodun, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan, said that government was not paying enough attention to mental illnesses inspite of the rising number of cases being recorded.
She said: “The Nigerian government has not put enough emphasis on this area of health challenge which is on the increase daily.
“For instance, out of every 20 admissions made daily at the UCH, six or seven are generated from schizophrenia (mental illness).
“This gives us a holistic figure of 1, 680 cases of mental health illnesses treated in UCH, annually and this is really an alarming situation on our hands.
“Sixty-five per cent of these numbers are women and girls because women are more prone to develop depression which is a primary factor causing mental illness
“Half of this admission is discharged early after full recovery from treatment, but a lot others remain for longer periods of time in the ward.
“In a population of about 180 million people or there about, it is speculated that about 64 million Nigerians suffer from one form of mental disorder or the other, and deserving attention.
“Government had done much in the area of Primary Health Care and HIV/AIDS, much is yet to be done in the area of psychiatry and mental health and this is a little disheartening.’’
According to her, mental illness “ is a condition that influences the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, or relates to others and to his surroundings.
“On the contrary, mental health, is a state of well being, in which a people realise their own potentials, can cope with normal life stresses, can work productively and make meaningful contribution to their community.’’
She said while the symptoms of mental illness could range from the mild to severe, it could also be different depending on the type of ailment.
The expert said the department at the tertiary health institution had been working assiduously through the Community Health Outreach Department to reach out to communities through advocacy on risk factors for depression and mental health.
She also said the department holds quarterly sensitisation programmes in secondary schools in Ibadan where young adolescents are exposed to various factors that lead to depression and mental illness.
“Major factors that cause this among our youths are peer influence, peer pressure, lack of parental care and love and availability and exposure to drugs and alcohol,’’ she added.
She further disclosed that the department holds a counselling session weekly at the hospital for people undergoing signs of depression.
“The counselling sessions have been of tremendous help in solving cases which could have hither-to led to full blown mental illness.
“Those treated include victims of domestic abuse, rape, kidnap as well as many adolescents, “she said.
She also said awards were given to schools as well as health and youth-related NGOs that had made meaningful contributions to improving mental health.
The expert said that as a tertiary health facility, collaborative efforts exist between all the 58 Federal Government hospitals, particularly the Neuropsychiatric Centre at Aro, Abeokuta.
“Aro is a global point of referral cases in mental health and also a tertiary reference centre to us at UCH. We often use it as a national mental health resource centre in clinical situations and for our students, “she added.