Dr Theo Onyeukwu, the acting Head of Clinical Services, Federal NeuroPsychiatric Hospital, Calabar, says early presentation of mental health challenge is key to its cure.
He made the disclosure in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar on Thursday on the occasion of the World Mental Health Day.Celebrated annually on Oct. 10 to raise awareness on mental health, the theme for this year is “Prevent Suicide.
”The Day is for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma, first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
Mental health is the level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. It is the state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment Onyeukwu, therefore, recalled that from his experience as a practitioner, he realised that people with mental health issues always waited for up to five to 10 years before approaching hospital, and by then, the damage had already been done.
According to him, mental illness is a condition involving changes in emotion, thinking or behaviour (or a combination of these), associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.He added that such conditions are caused by genetic or environmental factors but the only difference between mental ill health and other forms of physical illnesses is the abnormal behaviour in a mentally deranged person
.He said that “mental illness could run in the family or could be caused by bad lifestyle or traumatic event like the loss of a loved one or property, which a victim could not adjust to.
“The Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, was established in 1903, and presently, we have 200 patients, some of them with chronic conditions and have been here for up to 30 years, while others are in their acute phase.
“The Federal Government has invested heavily in this hospital and we cater for patients from as far as Cameroon, Gabon and Equitorial Guinea.
“I remember when the hospital was first taken over from the state, it was looking like an abandoned centre, but today, the Federal Government has put in so much, this institution is now a service provider, a training institution and a research centre.
“Our major challenge is paucity of funds to continue to run this place and complete ongoing projects like our student hostel which is still uncompleted.
“Here, we charge between N40,000 and N50,000 for a period of one month, this takes care of the feeding, accommodation, drugs and other support services for patients in the hospital.
”Onyeukwu added that relations of patients are not allowed to stay in the wards, except those coming for follow-up or those invited by the hospital for a family session. (NAN)