The Founder of the Mental Health Ditty Foundation, Dr. Adedotun Esan has called for the integration of mental health services into the nation’s primary healthcare.
Esan who made the call during the foundation’s inaugural symposium, emphasized the need to provide tailored mental health support for women, men, and children to cope with daily life challenges and manage emotions.
Speaking at the symposium themed: “Achieving Social Inclusion through Community Kindness,” Esan, who revealed that she had battled mental health issues, stated that: “I can relate to anyone going through such circumstances and provide the necessary help. If not, individuals can be referred to appropriate places to receive adequate help.”
Esan stressed the importance of government involvement and public awareness in mental health issues, while applauding the recent enactment of a Mental Health Act, signed by the former president, as a significant step in the right direction.
She noted that this was becoming a priority for the government, and it is hoped that the momentum continues.
Esan also urged the government to decriminalize suicide attempts in Nigeria, advocating for a more compassionate approach to individuals in distress.
She added that: “Let us give them help and not put them behind bars because that will cause more problems for them.”
Addressing the barriers faced by those suffering from mental health issues, Dr. Oyelohunnu Motunrayo, a psychiatric consultant and panelist, highlighted biases at individual and family levels, societal practices, and government policies as major obstacles. She emphasized the importance of empathy, acceptance, and inclusivity in addressing these challenges.
With World Mental Health Day approaching on October 10th, Dr. Esan called for the inclusion of diverse voices in shaping mental health policies, recognizing Nigeria’s existing policies and the need for effective implementation to improve people’s lives.