IRRUA – A mental health expert, Dr. (Mrs) Esther Okogbenin has called on the government at all levels in Nigeria to make deliberate efforts to provide enabling environments that would promote good mental health for the citizens.

She also advised Nigerians to shun practices that could be harmful to their mental health, such as substance abuse, in order to prevent coming down with mental illness.

Dr. Mrs. Okogbenin, a Consultant Psychiatrist and head of department of Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH), Irrua, Edo State made the calls while delivering a lecture to mark the 2022 World Mental Health Day, with the theme: “Making Mental Health for all a Global Priority”, organized by the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Medicine of ISTH, in collaboration with Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN).

The mental health expert, while regretting the harsh situations in the country, lamented that one out of every four Nigerians suffer from mental health problems, while over 90 per cent of the number do not have access to professional care.

According to her, people with severe mental health conditions die prematurely, as much as two decades earlier, due to preventable physical conditions.

She disclosed that two of the most common mental health conditions which are depression and anxiety, cost the global economy $1 trillion each year.

“Mental health conditions account for 16 per cent of the global burden of diseases and injuries in people aged 10 -19 years. An estimated 10-20 per cent of adolescents globally experience mental health conditions. Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents. Effective prevention and treatment exist. Most people do not have access to effective care”, she lamented.

Some early warning signs of mental illness, according to her, include having unexplained aches and pains; feeling helpless and hopeless; feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on the edge, angry, upset, worried or scared; severe mood swings, among others.

As a way out, she recommended regular exercise and physical activity, seven hours daily sleep, avoiding substance abuse, avoidance of self criticism, and refraining from unnecessary conflicts, among others.

The chief Medical Director of ISTH, Prof. Sylvanus Okogbenin, who was represented b y the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Prof. R. A. Eifediyi, stated that ISTH was committed to the promotion of mental health in the country.

He disclosed that the hospital had recently built 40 bedded infrastructure to take care of many cases of substance abuse and to also treat people with other mental health illnesses.

He pledged that the hospital management would continue to support the department of Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine to create more awareness, and also make sure that they collaborate with other health institutions all over the world to make sure that mental health disorder is reduced to the barest minimum globally.