By Adediran Olufemi, Abeokuta
The management of the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State on Wednesday disclosed that the hospital treats no fewer than 36,000 mentally ill people annually.
According to the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Timothy Adebowale, statistics available to him indicates that 50 percent of the patients treated are from Ogun State while 15 percent each are from Lagos and Oyo States.
Adebowale who spoke at a seminar, organised to mark this year’s “Mental Health Day”, in Abeokuta on Wednesday put the number of Nigerians who seek mental health care monthly at the hospital at between 250 and 300.
Adebowale revealed that half of all mental illness begins at age 14, lamenting that most of the cases go “undetected and untreated”.
His words, “On monthly basis, we record between 250 and 300 patients in our hospital. I am not talking about those ones who are already with us. I am talking of new patients.”
Adebowale identified abuse of alcohol and drugs among adolescents as the major factors causing medical illness. He urged the National Assembly to pass the Mental Health Bill without further delay in the interest of Nigeria, stressing that, “half of all mental illness begins at the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. Harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue.”
Investment by governments and the involvement of social, health, education sector and the media in comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for the mental health of young people is essential, ” he added.
The Provost pleaded that the government’s investment should be linked to programmes that would raise awareness among adolescents and young adults on ways to look after their mental health.