By Matthew Denis
The founder, Leave Impact For Eternity Foundation (LIFE) Mr. Sulyman Lawal has decried the dearth of psychiatric doctors in Kwara State in the face of rising mental challenges among people in recent time.
Lawal stated this while speaking with newsmen at a programme organised to mark World Mental Health Day, held on Thursday in Ilorin, Kwara State with the theme,” Working Together To Prevent Suicide.”
He disclosed that the state can only boast of two psychiatric consultants, stressing the need for the state government to employ more experts in that field.
“There’s need for more facilities, there’s need for government to employ more consultants. In Kwara State, we have only two Psychiatrist Consultants.
“In the whole of Nigeria, we have about 200 Psychiatrist doctors and we have about N200million people in Nigeria. If we divide this, that means we have one Psychiatrist doctor to 1million people,” he explained.
He also urged the government to review the remuneration for doctors as most of them are leaving the country for greener pastures.
Lawal then called on the National Assembly to ensure speedy passage of the Mental Health bill to curb the prevalence of suicide cases in Nigeria
While noting that the bill has been presented to the National Assembly, he said its passage is yet to see the light of day.
This, according to him, will curb the rate of suicide among Nigerians especially youths, promote good mental health and for a better society.
He also urged the Kwara State Ministry of Health to create a suicide registry where people who are depressed or suffering from emotional issues can get help.
He said the NGO has developed an emergency hotline that people can call to report suicide issues.
“We are commemorating the World Mental Health Day which comes up on 10th of October and the theme for this year is suicide prevention as this is common among youths.
“We have made recommendations to various ministries and parastatal including the Ministry of Health in Kwara State. We recommended that the Ministry should have a suicide registry.
“We have developed an emergency hotline which people can call to report suicide cases. We are working on partnering with the Ministry of Education. We want to take sensitisation to schools and list of schools has been given to us.
“In all these, the programme brings together different people from different sectors to rob minds on suicide prevention and how to improve Mental Health in society.”
According to him, Nigeria is still using the Lunacy Act of 1958, which does not meet the requirements of the international community and criminalise suicide.
Earlier in her lecture, a medical practitioner, Dr Oluwabunmi Buhari said about 1 million people commit suicide every year while 450 million individuals have mental illness in the world.
She added that every 40 seconds somebody somewhere around the world is committing suicide, which according to her is alarming.
Buhari identified social, psychological and physical problems as factors responsible for mental health issues.
She highlighted exercise, health education, problem-solving, good communication skills, Immunisation, maternal and child health care, employment and supporting vulnerable groups as mental health prevention tips.