Mental Health, Mental Disorder foundation APN
Mental Health

APN President Lists Mental Health Expectations for 2024

According to Mr. Taiwo Obindo, the president of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), 2024 will yield positive reports in the mental health subsector.

Mr Obindo, also a consultant psychiatrist, said Tuesday in Lagos that 2023 ended with many introductions and road maps, which, if followed up and implemented, would yield positive reports in 2024.

According to the psychiatrist, signing the Mental Health Bill into Law by the federal government is the greatest thing that happened to the industry in 2023.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in January 2023, signed the Mental Health Bill into law after two failed attempts at overhaul in 2003 and 2013.

The bill, harmonised by the Senate and House of Representatives in 2021, is the first legislative reform adopted since the country’s independence and will also replace the Lunacy Act of 1958.

He expressed optimism that the act if implemented, would create a better platform to address mental health challenges in the country.

Mr Obindo identified the passage and acceptance of the mental health policy by the National Committee on Health as another remarkable achievement in the industry in 2023.

He added that another notable progress made in the year under review (2023) was the establishment of the road maps toward decriminalising suicide in Nigeria.

Mr Obindo explained that the mental health subsector expected to see the implementation of these key policy directives in terms of verifiable measurements and he added that if it was followed and adequately implemented, it would go a long way to reposition the mental health sector in Nigeria.

Mr Obindo said, “We thank God that the year 2023 ended on a glorious and positive note as the aforementioned remarkable achievements are being recorded in the mental health domain. Therefore, our expectation in 2024 is to see the full actualisation/implementation of the set moves made in 2023.

“The signing of Nigeria’s national Mental Health Act was a significant milestone in the mental health landscape of the country, and we are grateful for that. But, the government needs to ensure the successful implementation of the act.”

The APN president stated that there is more that needs to be done, “There is an urgent need for the establishment of a Department of Mental Health in the Federal Ministry of Health to see to the implementation of the contents of the Mental Health Act. It is also of immense importance to establish a mental health fund in that regard.”

He stressed that there was a need to integrate mental health services into Nigeria’s primary health care system.

According to him, the integration has become imperative to create room for more and easy access to mental health services at the grassroots, as the majority of the nation’s population dwells in rural areas.

The psychiatrist further recommended increasing the budgetary allocation of the health sector in general and, by extension, to the mental health subsector.

He said, “Over 60 per cent of the population dwell in the rural areas, but mental health services/facilities are hardly available in those areas.

“If the services for mental health can now be integrated into primary healthcare, it means that even from primary health centres, people can now access these services, and it can bring protection to people working in that space.

“Similarly, it will create room for not only easy access to the services but also for its availability, promoting awareness and equally reducing mental health stigmatisation to a great extent.”