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Rise in violent crime adversely affects to mental health of citizenry, say experts

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Mental health experts have warned that if the prevailing kidnapping, insurgency and thuggery in the country are not urgently checked, they would continue to negatively impact the mental health of the citizenry.

However, the Rivers State government has been urged to integrate mental health into all levels of healthcare delivery, especially primary healthcare in the state.

President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), Taiwo Lateef Sheikh, stated this at the 50th yearly general and scientific meeting of the association in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Sheikh, who spoke on the theme for the conference, “Rising Trend of Violence: A threat to National Peace and Development,” said various forms of violent crimes that the society is confronted with every day, including armed robbery, rape and banditry, were glaring threat to national peace and development and it was time for concerted efforts to address them.

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“We as concerned mental health physicians understand that prevailing and large scale violence will negatively impact the mental health of the citizenry, and for any nation to have true socio-economic and sustainable development, the people must be healthy – most importantly, mentally healthy,” he said.

He stated that tackling the steep rise in the occurrences of violence and other crimes that the country was currently experiencing would require adoption of multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral approach that would develop mental well-being promotion, mental illness prevention and mental disorder treatment strategies for victims, survivors and the general populace, especially the vulnerable groups while harnessing ideas that will prevent violence and promote peaceful co-existence in the country.

The APN President noted that a drastic and significant reduction in violence is a requisite to optimum mental well-being, which is required for collective national growth and development.

Sheikh regretted that mental health services in Nigeria are hardly accessible outside state capitals with a ratio of one psychiatrist to over one million persons.

According to him, there are more than twice the number of Nigerian trained psychiatrists working outside Nigeria than those working in the country.

He, therefore, urged the National Assembly to pass the mental health bill into law as this would help to promote optimum mental health, prevent mental illness and also protect the rights and privileges of Nigerians with mental illness from various human rights abuse and guarantee their rights.


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