Bridging care gaps in mental disorder, substance abuse
With the call for adequate facilities and personnel to curb the increasing cases of mental disorder and addiction in Nigeria, the recent establishment of Tranquil and Quest Nigeria, a Private Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Facility in Lagos, will serve in that direction, ADAKU ONYENUCHEYA writes.
Mental disorder, also called mental illness, psychological disorder, or psychiatric disorder, is a mental or behavioural pattern that causes either suffering or poor ability to function in ordinary life. Although, the causes of mental disorder are often unclear, but common causes include drug abuse, depression, dementia, schizophrenia, as well as stigma and discrimination. In Nigeria, one out of seven persons have serious mental illnesses, while one in four persons will have some form of mental disorder; which is a conservative estimate, according to experts.
Mental illnesses could be treated with the right care as every mental disorder has some form of treatment, but most rehabilitation centres in the country are dilapidated, which is why with the introduction of Tranquil and Quest, a private psychiatric center which facilitates mental health and addiction recovery for persons who require better and more personalized care than what is available in the public, Nigeria could be among the developing countries with reduced incidences of mental disorders.
Just as the name implies –located at 15, Isaac Aloko Street, Igbo-Effon, Lekki, Lagos, a good look at its facility’s comfort and services offered, one would think it is a five-star hotel designed to host foreign political leaders, but this facility is established for mental healthcare and addiction recovery with the view of helping patients with mental disorders and addiction recuperate.
Being a subsidiary of Tranquil and Quest International, United States (U.S.), it offers mental healthcare services which focus on the use of medication, serene ambience, specialized hygienic meals, therapy sessions, and follow ups at the home of the patients to ensure their gradually treatment and full recovery. A first of its kind in Nigeria.
The Medical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychologist, Dr. Otefe Edebi who spoke to The Guardian said, mental health is one field of medicine all over the world that has not received enough attention, yet it is among the top 10 illnesses that causes disabilities, which shows that mental health is an integral part of healthcare. He said the idea behind the establishment of the facility followed the poor mental healthcare delivery and facilities in the country, as people with mental illnesses are kept in dilapidated centres, which called for a facility such as Tranquil and Quest that provides quality ambience for people with the mental disorders and substance abuse challenges.
The centre has the best of hands in terms of professionals in various fields of psychiatric medicine, its doctors are qualified consultants of various levels both within and outside the country as the need may be, with no less than 15 years of practice, its psychiatric nurses are well qualified, the centre also has clinical psychologists, as they are all top notch in their own specialty.
Edebi said: “We have a combination of both home base consultant psychiatrist and foreign based ones and we intend to have, even what is call Tele-psychiatric where we could have video conferences, skype sections, so that people can have access to any of our experts that are in our health organisations at their own comfort.”
The mental healthcare facility is accessible and affordable compared to the treatment received abroad, with the aim to take the treatment of mental and substance abuse from the shores America to as far as great angles, which is a dream come true for the founder Dr. Henry Odunlami, who started the dream about 12 years ago as Genepsyche, which was purely an out-patient treatment in New Jersey, USA.
Edebi said: “If you compare our facility and charges in the US to what you will get here, it is ridiculously low, so in terms of quality of care and treatment fees, it is about one-quarter of what you will pay over there when you do the exchange rate.”
Offering treatment to a mentally disordered person is not all, as there could be relapse due to environmental factors and other factors that can trigger the ailment. To this end, Tranquil and Quest, as part of the services, offers residential care and out patient care.
According to the Medical Director, it is a 24 hours service where the teams of professionals go to the homes of patients having mental break down to address the crisis, adding that mental health professional are few in Nigeria, with the treatment too burdensome.
“Mental health is really a big burden, beyond that, we have after care plans, the practice is what we call community assertive whereby we don’t leave the responsibility of taking care of an ill person to the family. It is the responsibility of the hospital even when the person has been discharged, to keep going to the homes or offices of whoever the person is, to see how they are doing, and we also have follow up plan,” he said.
There is also social workers to assist the family in dealing with patients that suffers from mental illness or substance abuse, incase there is a relapse when the patient has been discharged.
The facility is one which even a sane person would want to be admitted because of the comfort and services rendered. It has a gym, dinning section, lounge, in-group therapy and out-group therapy treatment section, which Edebi said, is a major part of the treatment, especially the drug treatment.
Hygiene also plays an important part in the treatment of mental disorder. Mental health admissions are usually long term from 14 days, which is why the facility also offers healthy personalized meal. The mental health centre has its residential chef who prepares the meals that aid the recovery of patients.
Edebi said: “Meals play a big part in the mental well being of an individual with mental disorder, for example, if someone checks into our hospital and is obsessed, part of the treatment will be to help the person address their weight, because if a patient feels good, it promotes their mental being.”
There is also an aerobics, Yoga and entertainment sections for those battling addiction, where yoga and fitness instructors take the patients through exercise, which also aids their quick recovery. For Tranquil and Quest, it is not just a mental health facility, but also a mental wellness facility.
He said: “The whole concept for us is that, already it has a lot of psychological trauma, so when people come here, we want them to have – like our name implies a peaceful place where the people who are brought don’t feel like they have been taken to a place where they will be rejected and abandoned.” The epileptic power supply in the country does not affect the centre, as there is provision made for a 24-hour power supply through their standby generating set and inverters. It has a 13-bed space facility with each room furnished with a standard bed, plasma television, fully air-conditioned, a place where customized care is given to allow patients’ quick recovery.
The mental healthcare facility also offers elderly assisted care services for those with dementia or other levels of mental disabilities, as it provides a system of one-nurse-to-a-patient, if there be need. It also runs, child adolescent programme, as there are child-adolescent psychiatrists available in the facility. There facility has a distinctive male and female wing, it also runs employee-assisted programme, which is more of mental health in the work place, where trainings, awareness and educational talks are delivered at work place.
Edebi said: “We go to companies and organisations to lecture individuals on how they can manage their emotional and mental health so that they can work properly to avoid any mental breakdown from stress.”
He continued; “Stigma is a really big issue in mental health, so we want people not to feel stigmatized as people with mental illness are looked down on. The concept of this facility is for people to be treated with dignity, which is why the rooms are equipped the way they are. Coming here they don’t feel they are imprisoned unlike in the public mental institutions, but rather feel happy.
Shedding more light on the out-of-hospital services offered, the Director of Health Development, Tranquil and Quest, Olubukola Hassan said the facility has community nurses that follow up on patients when discharged to avoid relapse of the illness, as recovery is a process in mental health.
“Once the patient is discharged, a day after that, our team of nurses goes to the patient’s home to check up on them. When you keep a person institutionalized in the hospital it is quiet different from the real experience outside there. We visit them, just like a planned visit for the span of six months, just to ensure their well being,” she added.
A psychiatric nurse at the facility, Funmilola Oye said, the community mental health is a form of therapy for those patients outside the hospital, adding that the community mental health nurse takes charge of the discharged patients in their homes to ensure that they comply with their medication, which is essential to their recovery.”With the establishment of Tranquil and Quest mental healthcare and addiction recovery facility, Nigeria is on its way to record little or no mental cases.
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