The Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN) has identified the decade-long Boko Haram insurgency as the primary cause of the rising mental health disorders in the northeast region.
The trauma inflicted on the people by the insurgency has had a profound impact on their mental well-being, according to the APN.
The lack of mental health desk offices in many states across the country was also highlighted as a concern by the APN. They emphasized that this absence would hinder the effective implementation of the mental health Act at the sub-national level. As a result, the APN called for the establishment of mental health desks in all ministries of health throughout the federation.
During the association’s 54th Annual General Meeting held in Maiduguri, APN President Prof. Taiwo James Obindo read a communique expressing these concerns. Prof. Obindo pointed out that a significant portion of the population in the northeast region required basic mental health services that they could not afford due to their economic circumstances.
The APN President also drew attention to the alarming rate of mental illness, attributing it to various factors such as kidnapping, unemployment, underemployment, loss of loved ones, insecurity, and economic hardships in the country. He noted that the use of psycho-social support interventions for individuals displaced by the insurgency was crucial.
Prof. Obindo stated that the prevalence of mental health disorders in the northeast was estimated to affect around 50 percent of the population, a substantial increase from the 25 percent reported in 2006. He highlighted the efforts of the APN in providing medical outreach in Maiduguri, where over 500 patients were attended to during a pre-conference initiative.
The APN President urged governments to prioritize the provision of adequate training for medical students, residents, doctors, and other specialists to address the growing mental health challenges in the country.