Sit-at-home, COVID-19 effects trigger depression, mental illnesses – Expert

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Professor Monday Igwe, Medical Director, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, says that the sit-at-home directives and the effects of COVID-19, are major factors that trigger depression and mental illnesses in the South-East in particular and the country in general.

Igwe spoke in an interview with journalists on the rise being recorded in mental illnesses in psychiatric hospitals worldwide, including Nigeria.

The medical director spoke on Monday, in Enugu, during the commemoration of the 2021 World Mental Health Day with the theme, ‘Mental health in an unequal world.’

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He listed other factors to include high level of unemployment, inflation, terrorism, banditry, communal conflicts and kidnapping, leading to changes in human activities.

According to him, these factors often lead to economic losses as well as depression which are threats to mental health.

“It is projected that the need for mental health and psycho-social support will substantially increase in the coming months and years.

“Investment in mental health programmes at the state, national and international levels, which suffered years of under-funding, is now more important than it had ever been.

“Unfortunately, mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. Globally, one billion people are living with mental disorder. Three million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol, while one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide,” he said.

Igwe, noting that societal stigma, discrimination and abuse of people with mental health conditions continued to worsen mental health disorders in the society, said that relatively few people could access quality mental health services.

“It is estimated that more than 75 per cent of the people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their conditions.

“Painfully, most countries, including Nigeria, spend on average only 2 per cent of their health budgets on mental health, such that the World Health Organization, with partner agencies, is calling for a massive scale-up in quality of mental health services.

“This is the time for the world to come together and begin redressing the historic neglect of mental health. Unless we make serious commitments to scale up services in mental health right now, the health, social and economic consequences will be far-reaching,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that staff of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, held a road walk to commemorate the day within the Enugu metropolis on Saturday, October 9.

The World Mental Health Day, first observed in 1992 on the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, is celebrated on October 10 of every year with support from the United Nations.

(NAN)

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