A psychiatric consultant with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Dr Jide Raji, has lamented shortage of qualified psychiatric doctors in Nigeria. He told The Nation that “There is no adequate manpower in this sector at all. As I speak, there are less than 200 psychiatric doctors serving over 180 million Nigerians, everyday psychiatric trainees are leaving in droves.”
Raji, whose specialty is in forensic psychiatry, lamented that there is a lot of brain drain going on in the sector. His words: “In the last one year, in this facility alone, not less than 10 doctors and nurses had left; and for those that still remain, they are still considering their options. When this continues, you can imagine what this would translate to in terms of service delivery and utilisation.”
He highlighted reasons for increase in cases of mental health disorder to include the following: increase in access to psychoactive substance. ‘These days, the rate and manner young adults alike access psychoactive substance is on the increase. Second, there are unrest due to violence, war, people in that part of the world are coming down with mental disorder ranging from acute stress reaction due to displacement; having to leave their traditional home, loss of means of livelihood, loss of loved ones, having to start all over again, economic hardship whereby people don’t have access to good nutrition, good food, education, adequate healthcare system, etc.
“It’s so sad that we have an unresponsive government that would not do the economic/social impact assessment before rehabilitating its displaced people from their means of livelihood without making adequate provision for them. The economic impact could be devastating like people going to work and having to spend long hours on the road commuting especially in an ever busy city like Lagos, this could lead to people breaking down psychologically,” said Raji.
He therefore enjoined the government to look into the area of mental health because it is vital, adding that mental health prevention should be seen as a public priority.
According to Raji, the issue of children with mental health disorder is on the rise globally and Nigeria is not left out. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, one out of four Nigerians has mental disorder and about one in four will still experience mental illness in their lifetime. Also 13% of total disability we experience in the world is accounted for by mental illness and it is expected that by this year 2020, it will increase to 15%.
He therefore charged government to provide good working environment, good remuneration and good policies that will cater for the need of individuals. “For individuals, they should have a good mental health life, eat healthy foods, go for exercise and have a good inter personal relationship and the society will be better for it,” he said.