UCH records 1,680 mental health cases in 1 year


Prof.  Olayinka Omigbodun, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Head of  Child and Adolescent  Mental Health  Department at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, says more than 1,680 cases of mental illness were treated in the facility in the  last one year.

Omigbodun, who spoke to the News Agency of  Nigeria  (NAN) in Ibadan, said  that  government was not paying enough attention to mental illnesses inspite of  the rising number of cases being recorded.

She said: “The Nigerian government has not put enough emphasis on this area of health challenge which is on the increase daily.

“ For instance,  out of every 20 admissions made daily at the UCH, six  or seven  are generated from schizophrenia (mental illness).

“This gives us a holistic figure of 1, 680 cases of mental health illnesses treated in UCH, annually and this is really an alarming situation on  our hands.

“ Sixty-five per cent of these numbers are women and girls because women are more prone to develop depression which is a primary factor causing mental illness

“Half of this admission is discharged early after full  recovery  from treatment, but a lot others remain for longer periods of time in the ward.

“In a population of about 180 million people or there about, it is speculated that about 64 million Nigerians suffer from one form of mental disorder or the other, and  deserving attention.

“Government had done much in the area of Primary Health Care and HIV/AIDS, much is yet to be done in the area of psychiatry and mental health and this is a little disheartening.’’

According to her, mental illness “ is a condition that influences the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, or relates to others and to his surroundings.

“On the contrary, mental health, is a state of well being, in which a people realise their own potentials, can cope with normal life stresses, can work productively and make meaningful contribution to their  community.’’

She said while the symptoms of mental illness could  range from the  mild to severe,  it could also be different  depending on the type of  ailment.

The expert   said the  department at the tertiary health institution had  been working assiduously through the Community Health Outreach Department to reach out to  communities  through advocacy on risk factors for depression and mental health.

She also said  the department holds quarterly  sensitisation programmes in  secondary schools in Ibadan  where  young adolescents are exposed to various factors that lead to depression and mental illness.

“ Major factors  that cause  this among our youths are peer influence, peer pressure, lack of parental care and love and availability and exposure to drugs and alcohol,’’ she added.

She further disclosed that the department holds a counselling session weekly at the hospital for people undergoing signs of depression.

“The counselling sessions have been of tremendous help in solving cases which could have hither-to  led to full blown mental illness.

“ Those treated include  victims of domestic abuse, rape, kidnap as well  as many adolescents, “she said.

She also said  awards were given to schools as well as  health and youth-related NGOs that had  made meaningful contributions to improving mental health.

The expert  said that as a tertiary health facility, collaborative efforts exist between all the 58 Federal Government hospitals,  particularly the Neuropsychiatric Centre at Aro, Abeokuta.

“Aro is a global point of referral cases in mental health and also a tertiary reference centre to us  at UCH.

“ We often use it  as a national mental health resource centre  in clinical situations and for our students, “she added. (NAN)

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