“Mental illness Increases in Northeast”

The years of alienation as Internally displaced persons, recurrent bombings and weakened health systems among others societal failings are already taking their toll on many people from the northeast part of the country.

The health sector report on the Northeast Humanitarian Response for the month of November indicates that with the life time prevalence of mental illness among Nigerians estimated to be 12.1%, it means over 930,000
people in the North East will suffer one or another form of mental illness in their life time.

According to the monthly joint report by the Borno State Ministry of Health, Health Sector, Nigeria and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA,) though there are about 7.7m people with some form of mental illness in the world the Northeast alone harbours 930,000 of this number.

An IDPs camp in Adamawa State

The report made available to Healthstyleplus Online notes also that in  emergency settings, the rate of common mental disorders can double—often from
10% to 20%.

In addition to the impact of the displacement and the weakened health delivery system, gross
atrocities such as abduction suicide bombings and killings are expected to have a negative effect on mental
health of the affected population.

The monthly report equally poured out that despite the magnitude of the problem, the region has a weak poorly funded mental health system with very
few mental health professionals, as compared to the rest of the country.

This is particularly alarming given the high incident rate of gender-based violence. Only 18% of fully/partially functioning health centres in Borno State can “reportedly” provide survivors of violence with integrated clinical management services.
However, more in-depth assessments of those facilities revealed that medical staff are unfamiliar with
standard treatment protocols, do not maintain confidentiality and often blame survivors who seek care.
Critical gaps in primary and secondary health services still need to be filled through mobile teams and
outreach services. Specifically, this includes regular nutrition screening in all the catchment areas, community
mobilization on key health issues and public health risks, and direct support to primary and secondary health
care facilities including local government areas general hospitals.

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