Lagos, March 18, 2021 A mental health expert, Mrs Veronica Ezeh, has advised Nigerians to cultivate the habit of occasionally going for psychiatric examination to enhance their mental fitness and well-being.
Ezeh, also a Psychiatric Nurse with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Yaba, gave the advice in an interview with newsmen on Thursday in Lagos.
She decried the attitude of Nigerians toward psychiatric services as most people would never voluntarily demand for psychiatric examination and services.
The expert said that such attitude should be discouraged because mental health was as important as physical health.
She said that the devastating effects of insurgent attacks, economic hardships and other crises across the country, had left many people in need of psychiatric evaluation.
Ezeh said that victims of such crises were often affected psychologically, while little or no attention was given to provide them with the needed psychiatric examination and treatment.
“Mental health is as important as physical health. But you find out that individuals, government agencies and organisations focus more on catering for the physical needs of the people rather than mental needs.
“Nigeria has mental health policy, but this policy is not being implemented,” she said.
Ezeh identified stigma as the major contributing factor that made many Nigerians to hardly seek for psychiatric assessment/enter psychiatric hospitals.
She said many people believed that anyone that entered psychiatric hospital had mental illness.
“But this is not so. One can go for psychiatric assessment just to know his or her mental status in order to ensure mental fitness.
“Even before going into marriage, one can go for psychiatric evaluation to ensure that the spouse is not having depression, anxiety or other underlying psychiatric conditions.
“Unfortunately, people most times jump into marriage without proper psychiatric examination, only to find out that their spouse has an underlying psychiatric condition.”
Ezeh said that stable mental health was key to good health of the citizens for optimal performance and contribution to the growth and development of the country.
According to her, mental health services are barely accessible outside the state capitals, stressing the urgent need to establish such facilities at the grassroots.
Ezeh said that most mental health cases happen in rural communities where there are no mental healthcare facilities or psychiatric hospitals.
She advised government at all levels to increase investments and funding of mental health service delivery.
“Let government subsidise the treatment of mental illness and establish more psychiatric hospitals to enable more mental patients to access treatment,’’ she added.