COVID Lockdown Effects Trigger Depression, Mental Illness – Neuropsychiatrist


Prof. Monday Igwe, Medical Director, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, says that the sit-at-home directive and effects of COVID-19, constituted major triggers of depression leading to mental illness in the South-East and around the country.

Igwe stated this in Enugu while speaking on the increasing mental illness cases being recorded in most psychiatric hospitals worldwide, including Nigeria.

The medical director spoke on the margins of the commemoration of the 2021 World Mental Health Day under the theme: “Mental health in an unequal world”.

He said that other triggers included: high level of unemployment, inflation, terrorism, banditry, communal conflicts and kidnapping, which have led to considerable changes in people’s daily lives and activities.

According to him, all these unfriendly developments lead to losses to many and for some it might further lead to depression and hopelessness that might trigger full blown mental health challenge.

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“It is projected that the need for mental health and psycho-social support will substantially increase in the coming months and years.

“Investment in mental health programmes at the state, national and international levels, which have already suffered years of under-funding, is now more important than it has ever been.

“Unfortunately, mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health.

“Globally, one billion people are living with a mental disorder. Three million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol, while one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide,” he said.

Igwe noted that societal stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses of people with mental health conditions had further worsened mental health disorders in the country.

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The don said that more disturbing was that relatively few people in Nigeria have access to quality and affordable mental health services.

“It is estimated that more than 75 per cent of the people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their conditions.

“Painfully, most countries, including Nigeria, spend on average only 2 per cent of their health budgets on mental health, such that the World Health Organization, together with partner agencies, is calling for a massive scale-up in quality of mental health services.

“This is the time for the world to come together and begin redressing the historic neglect of mental health.

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“Unless we make serious commitments to scale up services in mental health right now, the health, social and economic consequences will be far-reaching,” he said.

Igwe added that concerted action must be taken to address decades of inattention to and underdevelopment of mental health services and systems, human rights abuses and discrimination against people with mental disorders.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that staff of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, held a road walk to commemorate the Day within Enugu metropolis on Saturday, Oct. 9.

NAN recalled that the World Mental Health Day is celebrated on Oct. 10 every year with support of the United Nations and was first observed in 1992 on the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. (NAN)


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