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Psychiatrists harp on passage of mental health bill

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Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria has said that passing the National Mental Health Bill into law will help reposition the health sector to meet emerging modern challenges.

President of the association, Dr. Taiwo Sheikh, told newsmen in Enugu yesterday that it would also, in general terms, enhance the mental health and well-being of all Nigerians.

Sheikh, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), was speaking after the inaugural meeting of the returned executive of the association at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu.

He noted that the bill, which had passed its first and second reading, was at the public hearing stage at the National Assembly.

It will grant the rights of mental patients and ensure that they have access to qualitative care in all mental health or psychiatric facilities, he said.

“It is supposed to guarantee the human rights and properties of people who are mentally ill and ensure they have access to effective, humane and culturally sensitive treatments.

“It will task government on the funding for mental health; certain percentages of the National Health Fund (NHF) should be dedicated to mental health.

“It will also task government on the training of mental health professionals of different cadre such as mental health consultants, doctors, nurses, community healthcare providers as well as psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists,” he added.

According to the group, the 1914 Lunacy Law copied from the English Laws was still the main basis of mental health and psychiatric practice in the country, which it described as abnormal, regressive and not all-compassing by modern terms.

Sheikh, who is with the Department of Psychiatry, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, however, called for the implementation of Nigeria National Mental Healthcare Policy, which was adopted by the Federal Government in 2013.

He noted that “the policy seeks to go beyond treatment or cure of mental health patients to activities and programmes of mental well-being promotions, mental illness prevention and universal access to mental healthcare.”


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