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Worried by the high rate of suicide cases in Nigeria, especially among the youths, the management of the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Abeokuta, Ogun State, yesterday launched a “stress helpline” for people with mental health challenges.
The Provost and Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Timothy Adebowale launched the helpline at an event organised in partnership with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to mark the ‘2019 World Mental Health Day”.
According to Adebowale, the helpline, among other things is to provide professional counseling and appropriate referrals where necessary, to members of the public who might be going through any emotional distress or challenges of life.
The programme, tagged: “Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention”, was held at the NUJ Secretariat, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, the State capital.
Adebowale said, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) statistics 18,608 people between the ages of 15 – 19 years, die of suicide every year in Nigeria.
He disclosed that the reason for launching the helpline was because “people who suffer from mental illness lack access to mental health services, sometimes because there are no services in the community or because of barriers the their utilisation.”
His words, “Suicide is a global public health problem that deserves the attention of all actors in the field of mental health, including scientific bodies and professional organisations. It deserves particular attention from governments and health agencies.
Adebowale stressed the need for intensified awareness campaign to enlighten and educate members of the public on mental health illness and suicide, insisting that “Suicide is preventable and can be avoided, which is why all of our efforts and public policies should focus on prevention.”
He disclosed that, following the high rate of suicide among students of tertiary institutions, the management of the hospital had began partnering with tertiary institutions to counsel students on the need to shun suicide.
Adebowale also stated that the hospital had been training staff of tertiary institutions on mental health counseling and how to counsel their students against committing suicide and called on other tertiary institutions that are yet to be captured in the programme to join.
The Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the Ogun State Council of NUJ, Mr. Kayode Taiwo in his remarks, shock at the high rate of suicide cases among the youths, saying “if suicide is not tackled very well in Nigeria, we might be heading to global crisis.”