The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, has called upon Nigerians to accord people with mental health conditions respect and dignity. In her message on the World Health Day 2015 event held at the UN Information Centre, Lagos, on 9th October 2015, Dr. Moeti said “to promote mental health wellness, people with mental health conditions should not be subjected to undignified and degrading treatment.” Represented at the event by Dr. Irene Isibor from the WHO Office in Lagos, the WHO Regional Director said that her organisation will work with the government to revise legislation and build the capacities of health workers to enable them work better with people having mental health conditions.
The Director UNIC Lagos, Mr. Ronald Kayanja, noted that this year’s World Mental Health Day is commemorated few days after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals which include targets on health and wellness, inclusiveness and rights. He called upon religious leaders, civil society organisations and the government institutions at all levels to pay more attention to the needs of people with mental health conditions.
In his opening remarks at the event, the Permanent Secretary Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Omodele J. Osunkiyesi, said that the major challenge to the dignity of mental health patients is the public perception promoted by the media and some religious beliefs which attribute mental disorders to spiritual attacks. He said the Lagos State is dedicated to provision of the mental health services to all citizens of the state.
A keynote presentation delivered by D.r Taiwo Oduguwa of the Federal Neuro Psychiatrists Hospital, Yaba, outlined the most common mental health disorders as: depression, seizures, and autism. Dr. Oduguwa called upon the public to desist from calling people with mental health disorders derogatory names such as mad, crazy, psycho, and insane.
The event was co-organised by the Shaping Lives Foundation and the Executive Director, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Opeloyeru, told participants that anyone can have a mental health condition, so families should not be embarrassed when they have one of their own with the condition. The event was also addressed by Dr. Femi Olugbile, a former Permanent Secretary in the Lagos State Ministry of Health. He told participants that the promotion of the dignity of the mental Health Patient is a concerted effort of the public, the government, civil society and international agencies. “We should love the mental Health patients, protect them and see them as people who can contribute to the development of the Society,” Dr. Olugbile noted.
World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.