NHRC seeks holistic approach to address Mental health 

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The National human rights Commission (NHRC) has called for a holistic approach to address mental health in Nigeria. Mr Tony Ojukwu, SAN, made this call in Abuja on Friday, at a dialogue to mark the 2023 World Mental Health Day. The day is celebrated every year on Oct. 10.

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The day availed the opportunity for people and communities to unite behind the theme ”Mental health is a universal human right”.

To also improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect everyone’s mental health as a universal human right.

Ojukwu represented by Mr Richmond Iheme, deputy Director of monitoring in the commission, said the dialogue seeks to place in 2023 theme of the World Mental Health Day on the froth burner .

He added that the dialogue is aimed at mobilising relevant agencies and the civil society organisations to discharge government commitment under the international law on right to heath.

”To mobilize consciousness to move away from biomedical towards a holistic approach to mental health in order to address associated human rights concerns.What role can each Agency and CSOs play? Availability, Accessibility and Affordability are central to government obligation in relation to all economic, social and cultural rights” he said.

According to Ojukwu, careful look should be taken on the available of the Mental Health care in the country.

Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Mr James Lalu Npom, represented by Mrs patience Okolo-Dickson said as at March 7, fact sheets of the World Health Organisation showed that about 1.3 billion people experience significant disability.

”This represents 16 per cent of the world’s population. Persons with disabilities have twice the risk of developing conditions such as depression, trauma, emotional stress, and poor oral health. Persons with disabilities face more difficulties and health inequities including in Mental Health than those without disabilities.

Health inequities arise from unfair conditions faced by persons with disabilities, including stigma, discrimination, poverty, exclusion from education and employment, and barriers faced in the health system” he said.

He said that one in four Nigerians suffer from a mental health condition which needs an urgent attention.

”However, the signing of the mental health act into law in January will address better quality of mental healthcare services and promote recovery in Nigeria, and to protect the rights of persons who have mental health conditions (including persons with disabilities). The establishment of a department of mental health within the Federal Ministry of Health to see that mental health policies are proposed and implemented is highly commendable. The Act which defines and protects the rights of Nigerians with Mental health conditions including persons with disabilities” he added.

”It is therefore important to have a collective approach to addressing mental health and other related issues for everyone affected especially for those with psychosocial disabilities who are mostly left behind. It is our hope that as we continue to build upon our collective commitments towards a holistic approach. We will continue to build bridges around the intersection of Disability and Mental Health considering special needs for those who are more vulnerable” he said.