Nigerians ask to study Psychiatry

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By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos.
Medical students in the country have been urged to specialize in Psychiatry, in view of the rising cases of mental health disorder.

An official of the Lagos State Government, Mrs. Tilewa Ibirogba, made the call at the “Stakeholders Summit on Mental Health” organized by the state’s judiciary to mark 2016/2017 Law Week.

“Many Nigerian doctors do not specialize in psychiatric medicine,” Ibirogba said, while delivering a talk on the topic:  “Mental Health Law Reform – The Process So Far in Lagos State.”

She said that there are over 200 types of mental illnesses which Nigerians are not free from.

She pointed out measures taken by Lagos State Government to curtail the malady. These include the constitution of a Committee on Mental Health Laws in 2014.

According to her, the state’s proposed bill on mental health is calling for a reform on extant mental health legislation in order to improve care-giving to mentally ill patients.

The word “lunatics” has been replaced with the term “persons with mental health disorder” in the bill, Ibirogba disclosed.

Police and state government are empowered by the proposed law to arrest people with mental health illness and relocate them to a safe place, she revealed.

“Psycho-social rehabilitation is very important,” she stressed.

Earlier in her keynote address, Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, expressed concern on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent estimate that about 20 per cent of Nigerians suffer from mental illness.

She gave example of a recent case when a Pastor shackled his nine-year old son in a church in Ogun State as one of the disturbing incidents.

Atilade was optimistic that the outcome of brainstorming by experts on the occasion would provide solutions for the subject matter of the summit.

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