Martins Ifijeh

Psychiatric experts at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, have lend their voices against stigmatisation of persons with mental disorders in the society especially in the labour market, saying it can disrupt the development of the country economically.

The Medical Director of the Hospital, Dr. Oluwayemisi Ogun, said stigmatisation was the biggest challenge faced in work places, leaving countless citizens unemployed, draining the economy and hampering development of the country.

Addressing journalists during a lecture organised by the hospital to mark the World Mental Health Day and the 110th anniversary of the hospital recently, themed ‘Mental Health in the Work Place’, Ogun said it was vital that organisation provide health services for their employees, including mental health.

“We are championing the right of those facing the challenges of mental illness. Global melt down and other consequences are as a result of mental illness of the employees. Over three million people suffer from depression in the society and work place. One trillion dollars is lost every year globally as a result of mental health problem. That is why we are advocating that labour organisations take into consideration mental health of workers to increase their performance,” she said.

Speaking on stigmatisation, she said individuals hardly walk into a hospital for treatment because of stigma that comes with it.

“We are also calling for free mental health treatment because the level of poverty is high in our society and most Nigerians can’t even afford a consultation fee of N300.

The Chairman Planning Committee of the event, Dr. Stephen Oluwaniyi, stated that the programme was designed to focus attention on the special area of human life, work place in particular.

“We spend about 50 per cent of our daily hours in our work place. There are areas in the workplace which can make or mar and can trigger mental problems. The main focus of the programme is to correct the issue of stigmatisation in the workplace.

A psychiatric consultant, Dr. Femi Olugbile, noted that mental illness was a general problem and a significant issue in the world. According to him, one in every five people in the society experience mental issue at some point in their lives.