According to World Health Organization, Mental Health is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.
Mental illness however, is the exact opposite, which is closely associated with substance abuse, unmanaged stress level, environmental hazards and depression.
Unfortunately, in a society like ours, mental health and every other medical term associated with it has, for a very long time, been a dreaded subject to talk about.
There is an increasing stigma attached to it which prevents people from seeking mental health care when necessary. Sadly, the less attention we pay to mental health, the more risk of having a dysfunctional society.
Here are some very interesting facts we may not be aware of in Nigeria but should pay attention to:
- Mental illness is not uncommon in Nigeria. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that four percent of Nigerians suffer from depression.
- Despite the existence of effective treatments for mental disorders, there is a belief that they are untreatable or that people with mental disorders are difficult, not intelligent, or incapable of making decisions.
- This stigma can lead to abuse, rejection and isolation and exclude people from health care or support.
- Individuals suffering from mental illness are generally seen as dangerous, regardless of their type or diagnosis of mental illness.
- Nigeria’s only existing Mental Health Policy document was formulated in 1991. Although a bill for the establishment of a Mental Health Act was introduced in 2003 and re-introduced to the National Assembly in 2013, this is yet to be passed into law.
- No desk exists in the ministries at any level for mental health and only 3.3% of the federal government’s health budget goes to mental health.