How healthy are you mentally ? (1)

….. as three in ten Nigerians suffer from mental disorders – Official

By Bode Durojaiye.

Globally, 322 million people are suffering from depression, a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration.

It also leads to impairment of an individuals’ ability to function and carry out everyday tasks and responsibilities, and could lead to suicide.

Depression in Nigeria is more common than we think.

Depression is a significant public health problem, and at a prevalence rate of 3.9%, 7 million Nigerians currently suffer from it , according to statistics.

Similarly, the Federal Government had said three in every ten Nigerians suffer from one form of mental disorder or the other.


This was disclosed by the permanent secretary of the ministry of health, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, at one of the stakejolders’ fora in Abuja.

“In Nigeria, an estimated 20–30 per cent of our population are believed to suffer from mental disorders. This is a very significant number, considering that Nigeria has an estimated population of 200 million. Unfortunately, the attention given to mental health disorders in Nigeria is inadequate,” Mr Abdullahi said

The permanent secretary further decried the level of awareness of Nigerians on mental health, describing it as understandably poor, with lots of misconceptions.

“It is estimated that common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse-related disorders, will disable more people than complications arising from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents, and wars combined,” he warned.

The official said the aforementioned statistics is astonishing and possesses serious questions as to why mental health disorders are not given the needed attention that it deserves.

“A policy for mental health services delivery was developed with several key provisions of the policy, including establishing a body at the Federal Ministry of Health to focus on Mental Health issues. Some of the pertinent issues are how to address and dialogue with stakeholders on the burden of mental health, intimate them on the Mental Health policy, identify ways to fast track the enactment of the Mental Health Act and modalities for resuscitating the National mental health action committee for coordinating the activities of various stakeholders on mental health and Psychosocial supports in Nigeria.


Also in the statement, Evelyn Ngige, a director of public health in the ministry expressed worry over the statistics, describing it as damning. She said it could get worse given the current economic hardships in the country.

“Considering the current economic situation in the country, the above statistics are damning and in the light of the recent suicidal episodes recorded in parts of Lagos, it forces a rethink in our general attitudes to mental health and questions our current maintenance of the status quo,” the official noted.

Often times, when mental disorder is mentioned in Nigeria, what comes to mind is the picture of a naked and unkempt person who is totally unaware of his/her environment, but such category is just a little part of the varying mental disorders known, even though it could be referred to as the extreme case of the health condition, health experts say.

People with mental health disorders are either stigmatized, untreated ignored or poorly understood in Nigeria, thereby causing an increase in the condition.

However, personality is vital to defining who we are as individuals. It involves a unique blend of traits, including attitudes, thoughts and behaviours, as well as how we express these traits in our interactions with others and with the world around us.

Personality disorders, is another mental health disorders which cause distorted perceptions of reality, abnormal behaviours and distress across various aspects of life, including work, relationships and social functioning.

Additionally, people with a personality disorder may not recognize their troubling behaviours or the negative effect they have on others.

To be continued…….

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