The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) has called for greater interest in Mental Health in Nigeria.

The NAS Cap’n, Mr Abiola Owoaje who made this call in a press statement he signed on behalf of the association titled ‘Time for Nigeria to Invest More in Mental Healthcare’ to commemorate the 2020 World Mental Health Day, noted that the peculiar social architecture of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic serves to further highlight the interconnections between mental health disorders, physical health, and the general condition of the society.

According to the organisation the impact of the pandemic has exposed the deep inequalities, ignorance, and deepening levels of neglect and poverty experienced by many, causing further mental distress and vulnerability.

NAS expressed deep concern on the extremely low awareness about mental health in Nigeria stressing that according to reports from the World Health Organisation, Nigeria has the highest caseload of depression in Africa and ranked 15th in the frequency of suicide in the world.

The group which listed various forms of mental illness including mood, anxiety and personality disorders among others pointed out that poor knowledge of mental health problems accounts for the increasing incidences of drug abuse, resulting in self-inflicted mental injuries, which ordinarily build up from neurosis to psychosis.

NAS therefore called on stakeholders in the country’s mental healthcare sector to appraise, review and apply all international protocols in the nation’s mental health care administration.

It also urged the Nigerian government in line with WHO guidelines to strengthen leadership and governance systems for mental health and social care and implement concrete strategies to promote mental health.

The statement read in part “There is a need for the government, as a matter of urgency, to consider the establishment of six new federal psychiatric hospitals within the six geo-political zones of the country. The current 8 federal government owned neuropsychiatric hospitals are not adequate to take care of the mental health care needs of her over 180million population.

“The State governments must collaborate with the federal government to integrate mental health as part of the primary healthcare services within each State.

“There should be an accelerated transition to mental healthcare in the community, with increased investments in the training of more specialists, and psychiatric wards, especially in general hospitals. Failure to invest specifically in mental healthcare services as a matter of urgency has huge health, social, and economic costs.

“Governments at all levels and every concerned individual or group must scale up advocacy on mental health education to raise awareness and reduce social stigma.”

“The Federal Ministry of Health must collaborate with security agencies to move round available local and government mental health institutions in the country to discourage chaining of people with mental health illness. “