Nurses under the aegis of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA) have called for the establishment of more Neuropsychiatric hospitals across Nigeria.
The Association observed that existing Neuropsychiatric facilities are stretched beyond their capacities due to increasing incidence of mental health challenges among Nigerians.
In a statement on Monday by the National Secretary of UGONSA, Nur. G.I. Nshi, the association said it observed that depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal ideation and post-traumatic stress disorders are on the rise in the country, owing to unbearable level of stress probably orchestrated by the harsh economic reality in the land.
It said: “The existing mental health facilities have been overstretched beyond their capacity. Nurses and physicians in mental health facilities across this country are overworked beyond their carrying capacity and are adversely exposed to increased level of clinical harms. Regrettably, their hazard allowance remains the insulting sum of five thousand naira in a country that pays political office holders millions of naira as newspaper allowance.
It cited the example of the South-East, Nigeria and identified that the whole of Ebonyi State is served by a 24 – bedded psychiatric ward of Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA). This ward has 26 nurses and 21 physicians, 1 EEG machine, 1 suction machine, 1 ECT machine, and 1 sphygmomanometer serving the whole of Ebonyi State and beyond.
With the current shut down of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, by industrial crisis, the Mental Health Unit of FETHA is now almost the only alternative for the people of the South-East, Zone.
This calls for urgent need to expand the Psychiatric Ward of FETHA to a fully fledged Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital. This should not only be for South-East zone. It should be replicated across other zones of the country as well.
The increasing incidence of mental health challenges facing the country require that we upgrade the existing facilities, update their equipments, build more centres, engage more professional healthcare workers and reward them appropriately by making an upward review of their hazard allowance.
It is high time the Federal Government made concerted effort to promote the mental health of the citizens- the statement concluded.