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Academy of Science forum seeks elimination of mental health stigma


Worried by the increased suicide rate, mental health experts have called for the elimination of stigma and discrimination of sufferers since the condition can be treated if presented and detected early.

They made the remarks at the Nigerian Academy of Science Media Roundtable on Depression and Suicide Prevention in Lagos.Consultant Psychiatrist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Prof. Oye Gureje, stressed that eliminating mental health stigma will encourage affected persons to seek treatment; and boost their quality of life.

Gureje added the challenge with depression is that people who are affected are not aware of their conditions, let alone getting treatment. “It is also unfortunate that most symptoms will present themselves like malaria and before one will understand exactly what is happening, depression would have eaten deep. Symptoms of mental health include irritable mood, low concentration, low self-esteem, guilt, among others,” he added.

Also, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, UCH, Ibadan, Prof. Olayinka Omigbodun, said there is a universal intervention in preventing depression and suicide in children and adolescent to promote mental health and wellbeing and child adolescent mental health.She called for the review of mental health laws to provide proper care for affected persons in Nigeria. “We cannot talk about the proper treatment of mental health issues if we do not have a law to back it up and we also need to understand that mental health issues affect everyone.”

The psychiatrist added that the burden of depression on adolescents affects their interpersonal relationships and could be linked to other problems including smoking, drug abuse, academic failure, physically inactive and secondary behavioral problems like truancy and stealing.

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Oye Gureje
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