The 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 Babajide Sanwo-Olu who made this known in his address to the Lagos Mental Health Conference organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Health disclosed that the State government had set the groundwork for the development of sustainable mental health care programmes and services that would 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 would 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 it iss 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, while a first class mental health institution is under construction in Ketu Ejirin.
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.
Experts Advocate Building and Sustaining Investment in Mental Health
Meanwhile, mental health experts and stakeholders have advocated building and sustaining investments in mental health to promote, protect and restore mental health of citizens.
They made the call during the Lagos Mental Health Conference in Victoria Island area of the State.
The experts 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
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 which was passed in 2019 seeks to protect citizens against stigmatization and discrimination and increase access to mental health services.