Psychiatrist Canvasses Collaboration between Institutions, Firms in Tackling Health Disorders

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A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Shehu Sale, has called for active collaboration between institutional organs in the formal sector and non-formal traditional healers in tackling mental health disorders.

Shehu, who disclosed this Thursday in Sokoto, attributed the prevalence of mental health cases to the absence of synergy between organs, stressing that collaborations would fast-track understanding of capabilities and limitations among others.

He said most psychiatric cases are often taken to non-formal places as the first point of call before being reported to qualified facility in Nigerian communities.

According to him, everyone is vulnerable to mental illness as research indicated that one out of every four persons would have one form of mental disorder in their lifetime.

Sale, who was a speaker at the Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Allied Professional in Nigeria (ACAPAN) symposium, said the federal government’s plan of integrating mental health into Primary Health Care (PHC) system will offer great succour in addressing such problems.

He explained that based on the needs of the population, PHC forms an integral part in Nigeria’s health system, and should be the main focus in order to boost the overall social and economic development of communities.

He said mental health burden is likely to be underestimated because of inadequate appreciation of the connectedness between mental illness and other health conditions.

Sale, an Associate Professor and Master Trainer with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Medical Director, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital (FNPH) Kware, Sokoto State, described the government’s integration effort and other support psychiatric facilities as a landmark achievements of present administration.

He stated that mental illness increases the risk of both communicable and non-communicable diseases and vice versa as it also increases the likelihood of living in poverty.

“Perhaps because of their influence on functionality and ability to get or sustain employment, conversely, poverty, substance abuse and depression increases the likelihood of developing mental disorders,” Sale said.

The psychiatrist said stigma and discrimination against people living with mental disorders affects their education, employment and access to care, and hampers their capacity to contribute to society.

“Mentally ill patients, especially if chronic, have poor health related quality of life and poor global adjustment of functioning.

“Unfortunately, the majority of developmental and poverty alleviation programmes do not reach persons with mental or psychosocial disabilities,’’ he said.

He appealed to the government for the allocation of significant funding resources to mental health as obtained in the control of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, and the promotion of maternal and child health.