Nurses under the aegis of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA) have called for establishment of more neuropsychiatric hospitals across Nigeria.
The National Secretary of the association, Mr Goodluck Nshi, made the appeal in an interview with the press in Abakaliki.
Nshi said that depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal ideation and post-traumatic stress disorders were on the rise in the country.
He observed that existing neuropsychiatric facilities were stretched beyond their capacities due to increasing incidents of mental health challenges among Nigerians.
The national scribe attributed this development to unbearable level of stress probably orchestrated by the harsh economic reality in the land.
Nshi said: “The existing mental health facilities have been overstretched beyond their capacity.
“Nurses and physicians in mental health facilities across this country are overworked beyond their carrying capacity and are adversely exposed to increased level of clinical harms.
“Regrettably, their hazard allowance remains the insulting sum of N5,000 in a country that pays political office holders millions of Naira as newspaper allowance.’’
He said, for example, that the entire South-East region was currently being served by a 24-bedded psychiatric ward at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA) in Ebonyi.
“This ward has 26 nurses and 21 physicians, one EEG machine, one suction machine, one ECT machine and one sphygmomanometer serving the whole of Ebonyi State and beyond.
With the current shut down of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, due to industrial crisis, the mental health unit of FETHA is now almost the only alternative for the people of the South-East, Zone,” Nshi added.
According to him, this calls for urgent need to expand the Psychiatric Ward of FETHA to a fully fledged Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital.
He suggested that the measure should not only be for the South-East zone, but replicated across other zones of the country.
The scribe also noted that the increasing incidents of mental health challenges facing the country required that the existing facilities should be upgraded with cutting edge equipments.
“Build more centres, engage more professional healthcare workers and reward them appropriately by making an upward review of their hazard allowance.
It is high time the Federal Government made concerted effort to promote the mental health of the citizens,” he said.