A mental health export has revealed that about N57billion is lost annually to mental health issues in Nigeria.
Speaking at the launch of Asak Wellness Centre, which is a dedicated community mental health trauma care centre in Lagos, Chief Executive Officer of JARS Education Group, Prof. Akindotun Merino, said it had become more pressing to scale up awareness on mental health, especially in a place like Lagos in view of the level of stress Lagosians experience daily.
She said that among the stress triggers in Lagos, were abusive bosses at work, and violence in various families.
Merino, therefore, suggested that the state needed dire attention in handling the mental health of citizens, while lamenting that the country loses N57 billion yearly to mental health issues.
According to Merino, “These are people who do not go to work because they are in a depressed state. It is not about insane people; this is about all of us.
“Mental wellness is that we are psychologically safe, emotionally healthy, financially viable, socially collected, and it is that we are a community helping each other so that we can be better in Nigeria.”
Speaking at the event, the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, acknowledged the importance of mental health while lamenting that awareness was abysmally low, “thus necessitating a deliberate measure towards bringing to the front burner the pertinent factors relating to mental illnesses in Nigeria”.
Citing the World Health Organisation (WHO), the first lady decried that Nigeria has Africa’s highest caseload of depression, and ranks 15th in the world in suicide cases.
Represented by a Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychologist, Dr Olayinka Jibunoh, she added that the number of psychiatrists in the country has been established to be a far cry when juxtaposed with the percentage of mentally ill Nigerians.
“The staggering reality certainly is a pointer to the fact that all hands have to be on deck towards improving the help-seeking behaviour of residents.
“The Lagos State government is seriously committed to the wellbeing and welfare of residents. And no efforts will be spared towards playing up all aspects of health care including mental health,” the first lady said.
JARS Education Group is a Lagos community mental health/trauma care initiative that runs the Asak Wellness Centre.
The centre, which is located in Ifako area of Lagos, aims to help people living with stress, emotional and psychological instability to regain mental balance against any form of psychosis.