The First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi has called on stakeholders in the health sector to urgently develop an institutional framework to respond to mental health challenges in the State.
The Governor’s Wife gave this call in Ado-Ekiti, the State capital, on Friday, during this year’s World Mental Health Day Stakeholders Forum, with the theme “Mental Health for all”.
Erelu Fayemi in her keynote address, said effort must be put in place to prioritize the safety of women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence, stressing that GBV is a by-product of unhealthy mental health.
The World Mental Health Day is set aside globally, to raise the profile on mental health issues and bring to the attention of stakeholders and authorities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30 percent of Nigerians suffer from mental illnesses while over seven million Nigerians suffer from depression which is one category of mental illness.”
Erelu Fayemi noted that report had indicated 11 to 15 percent of Ekiti population engaged in drug abuse and such development calls for serious concern.
According to her, “These substances range from alcohol, cannabis, prescription medications (mainly tramadol, codeine-containing cough syrups, morphine or anesthetic agents etc.), solvents, lizard droppings, to name just a few. There have been recent media reports to raise awareness on this scourge, but these have declined over time”.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the mental health pressures that many people face. Added to the fear of contracting the virus in a pandemic such as COVID-19 are the significant changes to our daily lives as our movements were restricted early on, in support of efforts to contain and slow down the spread of the virus”. She added.
The Governor’s Wife explained that heinous crimes such as rape, defilement, homicide and other forms of GBV are related to altered mental states.
She said the present administration had provided needed infrastructure and atmosphere to boost the quality of life of the people and improve mental care in the State.
“Dr John Kayode Fayemi-led administration in living up to its reputation of being a responsible and responsive government has enabled this event today, for us to chart a course towards the Ekiti State Mental Health Policy”.
“We must develop a policy that contains the roadmap towards achieving optimal mental wellbeing of everyone in Ekiti, primarily through preventive, promotive as well as curative and rehabilitative modalities”.
“The agenda here, is not to leave anyone behind, in the quest to ensure optimal physical, social, and mental wellness for Ekiti people. But most importantly, we must prioritise the safety of our women and girls who are often victims of genders based violence”.
“We must prioritize mental healthcare for all Ekiti People and reduce the risk for Gender-Based Violence. We should not end this year’s mental health day commemoration with just this excellent event. We must move forward by increasing our knowledge of mental healthcare, being empathetic to people who face mental health challenges and most importantly developing an institutional framework to respond to mental health challenges in Ekiti State.” She added.
The Ekiti First Lady plead with well meaning members of the public to join hands together to Say: “No To Drugs, No To Gender-Based Violence, No To Rape”, and prioritise mental healthcare in Ekiti State.
In his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Health and Human Services Dr. Oyebanji Filani, urged the people of the State to join hands with the State government to end drug abuse, rape and gender based violence so as to build a healthier society.
Lectures on different topics to explain the different aspects were delivered by professionals in the field. Dr. Lawal Musiliu delivered a paper on Mental Health for All – Perspectives from Nigeria; Dr. Oluwole Olutoyin explained Mental Health and Gender-Based Violence; Dr. Joseph Oluwasegun anchored the questions and answer session; while , Mr Peter Njoku, an NDLEA officer demonstrates the drug abuse perspectives using real substance to explain to the the audience.
Present at the event were the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Alhaja Maryam Ogunlade; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Human Services, Dr Folakemi Olomojobi; Ekiti State National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Coordinator, Mrs Mary Nnena Chikezie; Vice-Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Peter Akindeko; Mrs Olarike Olayinka, Accountant-General, Ekiti State; and many other state officials as well as Youth Corps Members.