Omotunde Maku, a psychiatrist at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State, has said many people ignore depression as a cause of mental illness.

She stated this while speaking on the occasion of the World Mental Health Day, held on Wednesday, October 10, 2018.

According to Maku, a person with mental health challenges may have reached the stage as a result of depression.

She said: "When someone is mentally derailed is different from a person that is depressed. Though, depression leads to mental illness, when one is unable to come out of thinking.

“Even though it is idiopathic, that is, nobody knows the cause, it can also be hereditary. Depression is one of the causes of mental disorder. People really neglect this fact. Depression is mental illness on its own; this is classified under major illness in psychiatry.

“There are so many warning signs and symptoms of mental disorder, among these signs are; talking to self, hallucination, delusion, wandering around, derailment, grandiose, suicidal attempt and impulsiveness."

The 2006 WHO-AIMS report on mental health system in Nigeria made some stunning revelations. It reports that “there is considerable neglect of mental health issues in the country. The existing Mental Health Policy document in Nigeria was formulated in 1991. Since its formulation, no revision has taken place and no formal assessment of how much it has been implemented has been conducted. No desk exists in the ministries at any level for mental health issues and only four per cent of government expenditures on health is earmarked for mental health. It also unearthed other issues related to mental health.

"These include unavailability of essential medicines at health centers, unavailability of physicians to run primary health care centers and the lack or restrictions to the prescription of psychotropic medications. It also identified that there are only a few nongovernmental organizations involved in individual assistance activities such as counseling, housing, or support groups."

It concluded that “in general terms, several countries in Africa are better resourced in regard to mental health personnel. Countries such as South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya have more psychiatrists per 100,000 persons and also have higher proportions of psychiatric beds. Also, many countries in Africa also give better official attention to mental health issues than Nigeria.”

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