About 18 million Nigerians representing 12 percent of the nation’s 150 million population require medical attention on mentalrelated ailments, a United Kingdom-based Nigerian Consultant Psychiatrist and CEO of Snapse Services, Dr Vincent Udenze, has said.
Udenze spoke yesterday at a one-day interactive session on improving the role of the family in mental health care held in Abuja. He, however, said there could have been a drastic decline in the figure but for lateness in diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Udenze listed possible causes of mental disease to include addiction to drug and alcohol and excessive depression, noting that families of affected persons have basic roles to play in ensuring prompt diagnosis and treatment for people living with the disorder. While calling on private investors to come into the rescue in the country, he expressed displeasure with public attitude towards the patients, saying: “Those with diabetics go on the street, we don’t stigmatise them.
Those with high blood pressure go to work, we don’t stigmatise them. We talk about those people with mental disorder badly when they are actually someone dear to us; when they are actually members of some particular families.
“Unfortunately, when we say mental illness, most of us jump into conclusion and think of the man on the street, the person we call the mad man; we stigmatize him. That is a lady or gentleman who had been unfortunately let down by the society because he is ill, no one cares for him or her; she is left there on the street. In some cultures, they even get abused, Molested.
There is thinking that if you sleep with a mad woman, you can make some money. So, society abuses them. All of us as Nigerians, what are we doing about this?” He added that families are often stigmatized along with the patients after a cure is achieved, and that such stigmatization could last for generations.
According to him, mental disorder did not mean that the person on the street could not be healed. Udenze said that services of professionals should be sought to save the patients from the disease. Mental illness, he said, is manageable like diabetics and hypertension, among others, stressing that early diagnosis and treatment was the best way to treating.
Source: National Mirror