Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Dr Chukwuweta Onuorah, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Anambra Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Nwafia has called for the establishment of more mental health hospitals in the state and the recruitment of more man power.
Onuorah made the call in an interview with newsmen in Nawfia Njikoka local government area of Anambra state on Tuesday.
He said that mental health facilities and man power working in mental health hospitals were inadequate to attend to over five million people living in the state.
The consultant said that the state has only 37 bed spaces in the hospital to attend to over 1, 000 patients that sought their services on monthly basis.
The psychiatrist described the experience as insufficient and that it hinders effective service delivery to patients.
“The mental health sector in the country needs uplift; it is not only in Anambra that the inadequacies exist, in fact some states do not even have a mental health outfit at all.
“There is urgent need for more mental health hospitals and good enumeration for health workers in the country so as to bridge the level of brain drain in the health sector,’’ he said.
The consultant called for mental health units in all teaching hospitals especially in the state instead of only having Out Patient Department, so as to make mental health workers perform optimally.
“There is shortage of staff and facilities to man and care for patients, so there is urgent need to attend to the needs of the mental health facilities for effective medical care,’’ he said.
He said that poor remuneration has affected the mental health success. “There is high record of brain drain in the health sector but if the psychiatrist nurses, consultants are well remumerated with facilities in place, the performance will be high as service delivery will increase.
Onuorah said that in the last eight months they have treated over 8, 000 mental health patients within the age brackets of 17 years and above.
The consultant attributed the huge number to mass awareness on the patronage of mental health facility by people in need.
He said that economic decline has made it impossible for people to meet up their demands and so some people have taken to drug abuse and some social vices which lead to psychological depressions that makes people who cannot cope to break down leading to mental health challenge.
Onuorah said that mental health problems can occur at any age and the symptoms differ though the signs may start manifesting in persons prone to such illness between 14 and 17 years.
The psychiatrist consultant advised patients and relatives to pay close attention to their people. He said that persons may show signs of unusual behavior like withdrawal, aggressive acts, hearing voices and dwell in hallucinations.
Other signs he said include seeing things which others around him do not see and urged relatives to watch one another closely.
He said records showed that people were making good use of the centre, currently its services are being accessed by 1,100 persons monthly between January and August 2019 against 500 to 600 persons from 2016.
He said that the hospital was created October 1991 same year the state was created but the hospital was underutilized due to lack of information and quacks.
Onuorah said that quality sensitisation and awareness has been done for people to patronise the hospital instead of visiting quacks.