Some medical experts canvassed for compulsory mental health fitness test for Nigerians leaders to ascertain the level of their stability to direct the affairs of the nation.
The experts who spoke at the 46th Annual General Conference and Scientific Meeting of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, APN, in Lagos also advocated for a Mental Health Bill.
The conference had its theme as: `Mental Health as a Driver for Positive Change’.
The Keynote Lecturer, Prof Ibidapo Obe, said,
“ It has become necessary for our leaders to undergo medical checks to ascertain the state of their mental health, in view of what we had seen in our House of Assembly and Senate.
“Most of the top leaders have challenges with the state of their mental health; no one checks people in political positions to find out their mental balance.
“Even before somebody contests an election, a mental health fitness check should be mandatory to ascertain if the individual is fit to be a leader.
Obe also a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, said,“When a man wants to acquire so much money, something must be wrong with him.
“The individual knows that he can’t spend all those in his life time, so something is wrong. At the pedestal level, let every leader undergo a mental health test.
“Bringing it down to the masses, especially the drivers we have on the roads, government must do something to check the mental health of these drivers.
“It should be enforced that the mental health of these drivers are checked considering their level of drunkenness, recklessness and general comportment on the roads when they are driving,’’ Obe emphasised.
According to him, the federal Government should pass a bill on mental health to help stabilize the citizenry.
Obe said that 50 per cent of people who were not mentally fit would seek help from churches rather than psychiatric centres.
According to him, because they lack belief in the capacity of current medical facilities to cope with their challenges, believing that the ‘gods’ of mental problems were supernatural.
Similarly, the Acting Medical Director, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Dr. Richard Adebayo, said that mental health was integral to the stability of the nation.
“We talk about insurgencies, Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, and we often forget about the mental issues that they may grapple with after being reintegrated in the society.
“The political, social and economic policies have their consequences on individuals, families, societies and the nation either directly or indirectly.
“The health impact is often unquantifiable and we know there is no health without mental health.
“Most of the burning issues confronting us as a nation such as security, economic crisis just to mention a few have grave mental health concerns,’’ he explained.
Adebayo stressed on the need for mental health bill.
“Unfortunately we don’t have a workable and realistic policy direction, no mental health bill to guide us and protect the rights of our patients.
“It is critical to deliberate on vital issues that will promote the very change we desire and enlighten our policy makers that mental health is very crucial in our collective drive towards the positive change.
“A lot of people are well dressed but mentally, they are not okay, consequently, to kick-start our security system, economy and general life as a nation, good mental health is very crucial.
“The Mental Health Bill will cater for the needs of our citizens especially for the ones who have challenges, those who are helpless.
“It will also help practitioners to guide their practice, help our people to be rehabilitated and not to be abandoned,’’ Adebayo said.
Also, President of APN, Prof Joseph Adeyemi, said that the theme of the conference was apt and relevant in view of the recent political development in Nigeria.
According to him, the conference will draw experience from globalization and interrogates how change in the governance will affect the mental health, productivity, quality of life of citizens.
Adeyemi emphasized that the nature of governance, positive or negative, would have consequences for the emotional well-being of the populace based on their vulnerabilities and predispositions.