Dr Kafayah Ogunsola

By FAVOUR ALILU

Dr Kafayah Ogunsola, a consultant psychiatrist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has said that government’s ban of sniper is not the best way to check increasing suicide rate in the country.

Kafayah who is also the founder of EmpathySpace.Ng, spoke to Business Hallmark during the recently concluded mental health awareness week organized by Create Your Own Story Organisation and EmpathySpace.Ng

Although Kafayah commended the government’s decision to ban sniper, she maintained that the government should focus on more pressing issues like passing the mental health bill.

She also identified poor economic situation, insecurity and fear of stigmatisation as triggers of depression, which she said explains the rise in suicide rates in the country.

“Passing the mental health bill for instance, should be the starting point. With a mental health bill, issues relating to patient care, access to care, funding of care, availability and evenness in the distribution of mental health facilities in Nigeria and professionals (Psychiatrists, Clinical psychologists, Social workers, Speech therapists etc.), within the facilities will be taken care of,” she said.

“It will also ensure the protection of patients rights, including the basic rights (right to getting employment and not to be relieved of the job, because they have a mental illness) of the professionals will also be protected, and opportunities for continuous training of these specialists will be covered by the mental health bill, if it is passed today.”

She advised the government to focus more on creating mental health awareness at every segment by way of seminars and symposiums where people can learn how and where to get help for mental disorders.

“Reducing the spate of suicide will involve tackling many pertinent issues. For example, raising awareness about mental health disorders, because mental disorders remain the single largest contributor to suicide,” she said.

“Also, making people aware of where to get a help for their illness and removing the stigma around mental illness (as it has been successfully done with illnesses like HIV infection)”. She said.

Kafayah emphasised the need to seek medical attention because, according to her, patients sometimes opt for self medication to treat depression which she said is very wrong.

Depression is a medical condition believed to affect as many as 25% percent of the global population.

Depression is a treatable mental disorder which is associated with low levels, of a brain chemical called serotonin.

Possible causes include genetic history (family history), environmental factors such as relationship problems, academic challenges, financial constraints and so on.

Spectator Index, a World Health Organization (WHO) research that ranked suicide per 100,000, per country, placed Nigeria fifth with 15,000 suicide in every 100,000 suicides.

WHO figures show that Nigeria has 7,079,815 sufferers of depression. That is 3.9 percent of the nation’s population. With an additional 4,894,557 Nigerians (2.7 per cent of the population), suffering from anxiety disorders, which has led to an increased rate of suicide over the years.

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