Hamzat - Lagos fight mental health

Lagos strategizes to eradicate mental health challenges

Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has disclosed his administration’s commitment to reducing premature deaths in the state by one-third through mental health treatment and promotion of well-being, in line with the Sustainable Development Goal for Health.

The Governor stated this today in his keynote address at the Lagos Mental Health Conference with the theme, “Responding to the Mental Health Needs of a 21st Century Megacity,” held in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The Governor, who spoke through his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, 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, which is to ensure that every citizen has access to effective and sustainable service delivery models.

“We have set the groundwork for the development of sustainable mental health care programs and services that will ensure improved health outcomes in the long-term.” “This will enable the state to become one of the forerunners in the delivery of sustainable, efficient, and effective mental health services to its citizens in Lagos, Nigeria, and Africa as a whole,” he said.

The Governor, who stated that his administration recognizes the difficulties in accessing mental health services, said the state government is 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.

Speaking further, Sanwo-Olu added that as a strategy, the state has integrated mental healthcare into its general hospitals and primary health centers and is building a first-class 500-bed mental health institution in Ketu-Ejirin.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, noted that the conference was apt due to the significant shift witnessed in the data collected in the years 2015, 2018, and 2021 on mentally associated disorders. He disclosed that the parameter is worrying as it shows a rise in the number of Lagosians with mood swings, anxiety, depression, alcohol disorders, manifest disabilities, hypochondriacs, psychiatric substance abuse,e amongst other mental disorders.

He opined that the increment in the different disorders could be relatively caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the difficult times experienced in a megacity, or the economic downtimes. The lack of money in the pocket has significantly triggered the number of mental disorders.

The Commissioner revealed that a significant shift has been made to existing mental health law promulgated in 2019, which was the first modern mental health law in Nigeria, as the state is now promoting significant changes in its services to spot changes in moods and orientation very early at the grassroots level and taking mental health strategies to the 57 primary healthcare

In his goodwill message, the Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem MMuri-Okunola, commended the state government for the programme which is part of efforts to enhance the productivity and wellbeing of citizens of the state, including Ppublic servants​

He stated that upon his assumption of office as the Head of the State Civil Service, his office created the Lagos State Wellness Center (LASWELL), specifically aimed at developing and improving the mental health of public servants working in and around Alausa.

He added that the success of LASWELL within the service was what led to extending it to the general public, “it is a culture that started within, tried, tested and extended to the people of the State.”

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