Psychiatrists identify barriers to effective mental healthcare
Three psychiatrists on Saturday identified cultural beliefs, traditions, ignorance, low level of education and poverty as some of the factors hindering effective treatment of mental disorders in Nigeria.
They spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Dr Olugbenga Owoeye, a consultant psychiatrist, told NAN that many people sought extraordinary means of healing by visiting
spiritual healers to explain what they were passing through.
“Our cultural beliefs and traditions encourage such behaviour.
“Also, most people are ignorant; they lack knowledge and understanding and because of this, they tend to look for other means, including spiritual help, to get treatment.
“Some people just cannot afford the orthodox means of intervention concerning treatment of their conditions due to poverty.
“As a result, they look for cheaper and alternative means in form of herbal treatment or spiritual means.
“And by so doing, most of them will not get the needed result and may end up compounding their health problems,“ Owoeye said.
He said that the only way to address the issue was through continuous awareness and enlightenment in the media, religious organisations and non-governmental organisations.
“The media has an important role to play, so also the spiritual homes – churches and mosques – to teach their members to seek orthodox means of treating their ailments.
Another consultant psychiatrist, Dr Peter Ogunnubi, said that lack of accessibility, affordability, and availability of health facilities forced many people to patronise spiritual homes.
Ogunnubi, who works at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, said that the poor state of the country’s health system made many people to seek other means of treatment.
“Many people believe that it is easier for them to see their pastors or Imams than going through long queues at the hospitals.
“Secondly, affordability, because, in the hospitals, you have to buy cards, drugs, and how many people can afford it.
“Then, these spiritual healers are more available than the doctors as they are always there to attend to their members, unlike the doctors, “ he said.
The consultant psychiatrist said that there was the need to make healthcare accessible, affordable and available through the concept of primary healthcare.
Ogunnubi urged the Federal Government to subsidise healthcare for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“Government should do everything possible to subsidise healthcare for its citizenry, so that people will pay less attention to alternative healthcare, “ he said.
Also speaking on the issue, Dr Segun Akinwotu, a psychiatrist, identified stigma as of one of the reasons why people patronised spiritual healers.
“Some people have stigma attached to their ailments.
“Because of this, they do not want people to know about their ailments.
“Many people are less stigmatised when they visit their pastors, Imams or other spiritual healers for healing,’’ he said.
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