Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa,on Friday said one out of every six people in the African continent suffers mental disorder.
This was contained in a press statement issued in Abuja by Charity Ahrey, the Communications Officer of WHO, to commemorate the World Mental Health Day.
The statement said the theme of this year’s commemoration: “Dignity in mental health,” was aimed at drawing attention to the crucial need of mental health patients, adding that they required to be treated with dignity.
It urged the Federal Government to improve on mental healthcare by tackling discrimination through individual and community initiatives.
Moeti said: “I appeal to governments and partners to improve mental health by tackling discrimination through individual and community initiatives, as well as strengthen national programmes, policies and legislative measures.
“Intensified support from partners, civil society and donors, as well as strengthening the capacity of healthcare providers will contribute immensely towards addressing this growing problem in the communities and in the region.
“Mental health patients deserve respect and compassion while they cope with the disease.
“In the African region, it is estimated that one out of every six people suffers from some form of mental disorder, unfortunately, in the course of treatment, some patients are subjected to undignified treatment.”
The statement said patients were deprived of food for many hours, deprived from family support and inadequate personal hygiene.
It also noted that some countries in the African region had implemented a range of measures to improve awareness, restore dignity and access to mental health services at all levels of their healthcare.
It said: “Some countries have started the revision of their mental health legislation in order to protect the rights and dignity of persons affected by the condition.
“Despite these measures, the promotion of good mental health and understanding of its challenges, together with early detection, treatment and dignity for the patients are still a concern in many countries of the region.”
The statement, however, decried the fact that there was lack of trained and motivated personnel in the area of mental health and psychiatry, which it said needed urgent attention.
Moeti, in the statement, however, reaffirmed the support of WHO towards governments and stakeholders by providing the needed technical support to address and restore dignity in mental health.