LAGOS TO REDUCE PREMATURE DEATHS THROUGH MENTAL HEALTH PROMOTION
…As Experts Advocate Building and Sustaining Investment in Mental Health
Lagos State Government has made known its plans to reduce by one-third, premature deaths in the State through prevention, treatment and promotion of mental health and well-being, in tandem with the Sustainable Development Goal for Health.
Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu while speaking Tuesday at the Lagos Mental Health Conference organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Health disclosed that the State government has set the groundwork for the development of sustainable mental health care programs and services that will ensure improved health outcomes in the long-term.
The Governor who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Kadiri Hamzat, noted that the implementation of the groundwork will enable Lagos to become one of the forerunners in the delivery of sustainable, efficient and effective mental health services to its citizens in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole.
He said: “Mental Health is one of those issues in our society that is still very largely misunderstood and whose conversations still happen in secret. This is despite the fact that we all know someone who is struggling with one form of mental health challenge or the other, like depression, anxiety, substance abuse and those we have lost to suicide.
“Our goal is to reduce by one-third, premature death through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and well-being, in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goal for Health”.
Sanwo-Olu noted that the promotion of mental health and well-being, and the reduction of stigma and discrimination of mental illness, are priorities within the state’s development agenda for Health, stressing that is geared towards ensuring that every citizen has access to effective and sustainable service delivery models.
“We recognize the difficulties in accessing mental health services not necessarily because of non-availability of these services, even though the existing institutions and resources that provide these services are stretched to the fullest, more important factors are the lack of courage to come forward and seek help, or insufficient awareness of where these services can be accessed.
“Our commitment to mental health is symbolized by the development of the Lagos State Mental Health Policy and Lagos State New Mental Health Law which was passed in 2019. This law provides for the protection of those suffering from stigmatization because of their illness and sets the framework for developing an effective and robust Mental Health Service for all Lagosians.
“As a Government, we are working to partner and collaborate with other sectors, to create a strong network of operations, facilities and programmes that will address some of these challenges”, he stated.
As part of its mental health and wellbeing promotion, the Governor disclosed that, mental healthcare has successfully been integrated into the General Hospitals and the Primary Health Centres services in the State.
“We are also building a first class mental health institution in Ketu Ejirin. When completed, it will be one of the largest in West Africa, if not in sub-Saharan Africa as a measure of our commitment to healthcare services, research and rehabilitation”, Sanwo-Olu added.
The Governor noted that the psychosocial wellbeing of a community, city or state is a reflection of the physical, social and environmental safety nets that exist in that society adding that there is no health without mental health because health is not just the absence of disease but a state of complete physical, social and mental wellbeing of a person.
“Finally, I urge us in the spirit of community and partnership to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, and let us make each day a little brighter and better for everyone around”, Sanwo-Olu concluded.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi stated that the promotion and protection of the health of residents of Lagos State has a positive impact on social development and quality of life adding that the continuous improvement in quality of health service in the State is a core mandate of the State Health Ministry which is uniquely positioned to utilize its resources to actualize same.
Giving a narrative of the increase in percentage of citizens with mood disorders, anxiety, substance abuse and psychotic disorder before COVID-19 and after the pandemic, Abayomi said that the new Lagos Mental Health Law that was passed in 2019 seeks to protect citizens against stigmatization and discrimination and increase access to mental health services.
Meanwhile, mental health experts and stakeholders at the conference have advocated building and sustaining investment in mental health to promote, protect and restore mental health of citizens. They noted that better information, awareness and education about mental health and illness; improved health and social services for persons with mental disorders; and enhanced legal, social and financial protection for persons, families or communities adversely affected by mental disorders will better improve health outcomes
In attendance at the Conference were; the Lagos State Head of Service, Dr. Hakeem Muri-okunola; Chairman, Lagos Health Service Commission, Dr. Atinuke Onayiga; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye and Former Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Dr. Jide Idris.
Director, Public Affairs
18th January, 2022