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COVID-19 has shown need to take care of our mental health, says Ehanire

COVID-19 has shown need to take care of our mental health, says Ehanire
October 15
09:41 2020

Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, says the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus have shown the need for Nigerians to focus on improved mental health.

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Ehanire, who was represented by Ngozi Azodoh, director of the department of health planning, research, and statistics, said this during a summit organised by the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN) in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health, to commemorate this year’s World Mental Health Day.

The World Mental Health Day is observed globally on October 10 every year.

The summit, themed ‘Psychological Impact of the Pandemic and Relevance of Mental Health Discussions Post COVID-19’, brought together relevant authorities in the health sector to discuss action plans towards making mental health care accessible to all.

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In his address, the minister said there are provisions in the national health sector response plan for effective management of the effects of COVID-19 on mental health.

“As we all know, arising from COVID-19 and the recent experiences, there has been so much around mental health issues starting from psychological discomfort, agitations and to the key critical issues around mental health,” the minister was quoted to have said.

“So, this mental health for all is so apt for the season we find ourselves in. This could not have come at a more appropriate time than now when the world is at a critical juncture.

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“Our daily lives have also been impacted so significantly that people have found themselves behaving in ways that are alien to them.

“As we race to cut the spread and impact of the virus, social distancing, movement restrictions, isolations, quarantine, temporary unemployment and loss of income, home schooling of children and lack of physical encounter with other members of the family, friends and colleagues, working from home have become our new realities.

“Because these are really alien to us, they have also become challenges to our mental health situations. Harping on the fear of contracting the COVID-19, these uncertainties and threats, both perceived and real, elicit fear, worry and stress as individuals.

“The WHO’s definition of health recognises the importance of mental health in its definition of health and the COVID-19 pandemic and all these have brought to the forefront the need for everyone — health workers, managers of health systems, people who are looking after children, pharmaceutical industries, older adults, people in isolation and members of the public — to take care of our mental health.”

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Ehanire added that he would do his best as health minister to ensure that the current mental health bill before the national assembly is passed.

On his part, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, chairman, senate committee on health, said the upper legislative chamber was working on ensuring passage of the bill in November.

“We have finalised every work on it. We have a clean draft and we have our report. By next month, hopefully before the middle of next month, it will be passed by the senate and then we would transmit it to the house of representatives for concurrence,” Oloriegbe said.

In his remarks, Akin Abayomi, Lagos commissioner for health, said the state had repealed its Lunacy Act and had began the implementation of the Lagos mental health law, 2019, which is centered around access, quality of care, services and protection of victims from being stigmatised.

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