Dr. Aishatu Yusha'u Armiya'u

… as WHO estimates 50million Nigerians with mental challenges

Trace Reporters –Following the perennial challenges of Kidnapping and rape of Nigerians especially women, Dr. Aishatu Yusha’u Armiya’u has pointed that victims need specialized physical and rehabilitation to reintegrate into their communities and to overcome stigma.

Speaking during the weekend with newsmen in Kaduna, Dr. Aishatu Yusha’u Armiya’u an associate Professor of Psychiatry stated that ” victims suffer stigma and problems of reintegration. It is known that not all victims of kidnapping suffer mental health problems but those who did have long-term problems. Whether or not there is mental health consequences, victims need specialized physical and psychological rehabilitation to reintegrate into their communities and to overcome stigma.”

She say World Health Organization (WHO) estimates has put Nigerians with mental health challenges at 50million.
According to WHO “for an estimated population of at least 200 million, one in four Nigerians, an average of 50 million people, suffers from mental health challenges. This is the situation amidst negative trends in kidnapping, rising internally displaced refugees and a background of a weak mental health system, outdated mental health legislation, lack of implementation of mental health policy, rising brain drain of mental health experts and poor social welfare system. In sum, given these indicators the global ranking is poor and we need to put all hands on the deck.”

Dr. Aishatu Yusha’u opined that mental health is not yet a priority area for development partners in Nigeria. “Thus, we cannot be talking about impact yet. What we need in my considered opinion is coordinated efforts from the international community and development partners (i.e. bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, NGO’s, foundations and pharmaceutical companies) to increasing advocacy, different levels of services and care for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of mental health conditions in our country.”

Speaking on the place of traditional and herbal medicine in mental health care, Armiya’u admitted that religious beliefs and spirituality have been known as important in psychiatric practice.

She say “religious practice and healing have been closely associated, and healing has often been performed by priests. However, with advances in scientific knowledge, the role of healing has now largely been in the purview of orthodox doctors. Nonetheless, priests or traditional healers are still consulted first in many of our communities.Family and cultural beliefs often determine illness behavior and the health-seeking tendency of the patient”

She maintained that “one cannot say traditional methods do not have a place. However, there is need to be a level of standardization and quality assurance to uphold ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice.We need to work collaboratively with academics in traditional medicine and other relevant disciplines to develop structured culturally relative etic and emic programs to tackle our local and national mental health problems”

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