Mental disorder, also called mental illness, psychological disorder or psychiatric disorder is on the increase in Nigeria, according to experts.
The causes of mental disorder are often unclear but common causes include drug abuse, depression, dementia, schizophrenia, as well as stigma and discrimination.
The mental health experts who expressed their views in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN said about one in four Nigerians have one form of mental disorder or the other.
Prof. Oye Guruje, a psychiatrist with University of Ibadan, said government should give priority attention to the management of mental disorder because its burden outweighed that of HIV.
He said “mental illness is one of the major contributors to disease burden globally; it is the sixth largest burden worldwide and this is much more burdensome than HIV.
“In Nigeria, one out of seven persons will have serious mental illnesses, while one in four persons will have some form of mental disorder; and this is a conservative estimate,” he said.
Guruje, who said that mental illnesses could be treated with the right care, noted that “every mental disorder has some form of treatment; but whether the person will fully recover depends on the type of illness.
“For example, dementia has no effective treatment yet, while there are effective treatments for depression, including non-medication like psychological treatment.’’
He added that while there were no specific causes of some mental illnesses, some might be hereditary, while some could be due to stress or lifestyle.
On his part, Dr Oyewole Adeoye, the National Coordinator of Mental Health Awareness Foundation of Nigeria, said mental health policies should recognise and address issues that affect mental health.
He said, “there is increased incidences of mental illnesses in Nigeria and the society is yet to take full control of the fact.
“Mental disorder is associated with societal vices, socio-economic pressures, emotional problems and political injustice like terrorism.’’
Adeoye said people with mental health problems should not become outcasts in the society, rather, they should be treated like any other form of disease and accorded respect and dignity.
Sokoto State Government has directed the immediate evacuation of about 500 lunatics roaming the street for emergency treatment.
The Sokoto State Chairman of the Zakkat and Endowment Fund in the State, Alhaji Lawal Maidoki disclosed this while fielding questions from newsmen in his office in Sokoto.
He said the emergency evacuation was to give them a sense of belonging and also treat them free of charge as most of them were neglected because of poor background.
He also noted that Zakkat and Endowment Funds have partnered with Federal Neuro-psychiatric, Kware, Sokoto with the view to carrying out treatment of all the 500 so far administered treatment.
According to him, each of them looking healthy is set free and sometimes given some stipend as capital to start business.
“We are doing this to enable us touch every facet of life through the Zakkat and Endowment Funds. However, the sum of 45 million Naira has been set aside monthly as allowance for physically challenged drawn from all the 23 LGAs of the State.
He said the beneficiaries include beggars, lepers, and less previlaged persons in the society. Alhaji Lawal kicked against fraud, even as he said those who die are replaced immediately.

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