Prof. Taiwo Obindo, President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), has advocated the speedy passage of the mental health bill to protect persons with mental health challenges and substance abuse problems.
Obindo, who is also the Chairman, Faculty of Psychiatry, West African College of Physicians, Nigeria Chapter, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the speedy passage of the bill would also go a long way in addressing stigmatization and discrimination against mental health sufferers.
According to him, the bill on the review of the “Lunacy Act” was currently in the last phase of the process of becoming a law.
He disclosed that the National Assembly passed the mental health bill in 2020 after proper consultation with all the Mental Health stakeholders.
“I am sure the bill is now with the Presidency.
“We are praying and hoping that this new bill will be assented to by the President as soon as possible.
“So, we can move from the archaic “lunacy act” to the new humane and more current law that is conforming to the global best practices,” he said.
Obindo stressed when the bill was passed into law, the process of management of persons with mental health challenges and the associated stigma and discrimination against sufferers would be reduced, if not eliminated.
He said that regulations guiding the Mental Health practitioners were also included in the bill to enable them carry out their duties effectively and meeting the global best practices.
“The fact that somebody who attempts to take his or her life is sentenced to imprisonment will be eliminated and people will now look at suicide as an illness rather than a breach of the law,” Obindo said.
He said that addressing the symptoms of depression in individuals who attempted to take their lives can lead to successful treatment.
“When mental illness remain untreated, the symptoms can worsen and negatively impact a person’s well-being,” Obindo said.
He said that those who abuse drugs and other substances as well as others who were dependent on substances could be better managed rather than sending them to prison.
“So, these are a few of the benefits in the new mental health bill that is presently before the presidency,” Obindo said.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)