Resident Doctors decry increase in mental health problems

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Capital Territory Administration chapter, have decried the increase in number of persons with mental health issues in Nigeria saying there is urgent need to address the problem.

President of the Association, Dr Roland Aigbovo said at a press briefing in Abuja that its 2019 Annual Health Week and General Meeting/Scientific Conference would focus on mental health disorder.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Neglect of Mental Health: A threat to the Society”.

Dr. Aigbovo said “it is estimated that about 20–30% of our population are believed to suffer from mental disorder and the global burden of mental health disorder is projected to reach 15% by the year 2020. It is difficult to identify areas of need in mental health service in Nigeria to make informed decisions about policy direction and to monitor progress. The global burden of mental health disorder is projected to reach 15% by the year 2020″.

He said that the figure has led to the continued neglect of mental health issues and huge unmet needs for service that exists for mental health problems in Nigeria.

“The above was the findings of the World Health Organization -Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS). This was also corroborated by the Federal Ministry of Health,” Dr Aigbovo said.

According to him, the situation is further worsened by unavailability of medicines, absent mental health services at the Primary Healthcare level and lack of other services like counselling, housing and support groups.

The president said that with the recent suicidal episodes in Nigeria, it now behooves on individuals to have a rethink in the general attitudes to mental health.

He noted that the annual conference also aims to draw the attention of both the Government and the general public to another important but hugely ignored aspect of healthcare services which is Physicians’ burnout.

“Our duties as physicians put us at risk of varying health challenges ranging from hypertension, anxiety, psychosis and even drug and substance abuse and ultimately suicide. We are made to attend to varying number of patients on daily basis and work for over 24hours straight in many instances just to get the work done. This has a direct consequence on the quality of services rendered and make us prone to mistakes which are avoidable if things are done well. Burnout is directly linked to undesirable consequences like; Lower quality of care/patient satisfaction, Higher medical errors/malpractice risk, Higher Physician and staff turnover and Increase mental disorders”, He furthered.

Dr. Aigbovo, noted that close to 80% of Nigerian doctors are jetting out of Nigeria to practice abroad and that those leaving are not replaced.

Adding that exhaustion and fatigue are the biggest causes of burn out as doctors are over worked across Nigeria.

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