Promoting Good Governance.

Mental disorder affects more people in areas affected by conflict─WHO report

A WORLD Health Organisation study has shown that there are more people living with mental disorders in areas affected by conflict.

The new study was published on The Lancet, an international science journal, on Tuesday. In the introductory part of the study, Nigeria was listed among countries currently suffering from conflict-induced humanitarian crises, others were Afganistan, Somalia and Yemen.

It estimated that one in five persons is living with some form of mental disorder, from mild depression to psychosis. And almost one in 10 is living with a severe mental disorder.

The finding is in contrast to data from the global burden of disease (GBD) of 2016 which suggest a mean global prevalence of one in 14 people.

“We estimated that approximately one in five people in post-conflict settings has depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

“Our study shows that the impact of conflict on people’s mental health is higher than previous estimates suggest,” the report read.

WHO said the people need to be able to obtain treatment and care. It said “their disorders often impair their ability to function – so access to care isn’t just about improving mental health, it can be a matter of survival.

To curb the rising of mental disorder, WHO stated in the report to be working with countries affected by large-scale emergencies across the world including Nigeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, South Sudan, among others.

An earlier report by the Norwegian Refugee Council estimated that nearly 132 million people in 42 countries around the world will need humanitarian assistance resulting from conflict or disaster. Nigeria was declared to have over one million displaced people in 2018 as a result of conflict and disaster.

The health agency noted that ignorance about mental illness remains widespread in many countries of the world. It added that “the uptake of mental health care during the conflict and other emergencies, in countries where such support has been limited, can lead to the identification of people who are tied up, locked in cages, hidden from society.

“In many cases, it is this very support that helps dispel myths about mental illness and leads to treatment and care and a path towards a more dignified life. We have also learned that, when the political will exists, emergencies can be catalysts for building quality mental health services”.

The health agency called on countries affected by conflict, including Nigeria, to prioritise mental health care and implement scalable mental health interventions to address the burden

“All countries have an obligation to invest in mental health. But it is particularly important in conflict-affected populations where the rate of mental health conditions is more than double that of the general population,” said WHO.

In Nigeria, there is yet to be legislation guiding the mental health issues of the country. However, thousands continue to suffer afflictions due to violence and different insurgencies, particularly, the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeastern part of the country. An investigation conducted by The ICIR revealed that Boko Haram violence has inflicted emotional injury on Nigerian children. It detailed how some children caught-up in the insurgency are now struggling with distressing memories and ongoing adversities – resulting in an upsurge of psychological trauma.

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