The motion sponsor said awareness campaigns on mental health would not only reduce stigma but, help in protecting the dignity of persons struggling with mental health.
The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government through the Ministry of Health and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to establish counseling centers across the country, to provide counseling services to people with mental health issues.
It also asked the Federal Ministry of Health to collaborate with relevant health institutions to ensure that research on mental health is put into practice to ensure evidence-based care for Nigerian citizens.
These were prayers of a motion on the “Need to prioritize and implement the provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2021 to tackle suicide and suicidality in Nigeria.”
Sponsor of the motion, Rep. Uchenna Clement Nwachukwu (APGA, Anambra) noted that it is the responsibility of the government to protect and safeguard the lives of Nigerians as outlined by Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
Nwachukwu disclosed that on 12 July 2023, a teenager took her life after being sexually assaulted in Oyo State, adding that many cases of suicide are underreported and mostly unreported in Nigeria due to social stigmatization.
He recalled media reports on the alarming rise in suicide between 2022 and March 2023, adding that a greater proportion of youth are victims.
“In January 2023, Joseph Olona, a 300-level student at FUTA, and 50-year-old Ojo Ogundeji both committed suicide on January 14 and 23, respectively.
“The risk factors for suicide such as mental health conditions, substance use, access to lethal means, prolonged stress, unemployment, financial crisis, and child abuse and neglect pose huge threats to Nigerians.”
According to Rep. Nwachukwu, there has not been adequate sensitization of the provisions of the Act and guidelines on how people struggling with mental health problems can receive help.
He added the awareness campaigns would reduce stigma and ensure the acceptability of the regulations to protect the dignity of people struggling with mental health.
In adopting the motion, the House also mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to evaluate the implementation of the Mental Health Act and conduct a needs assessment of the full implementation of the Act.