Mental health, which is defined by the World Health Organization
(WHO) as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”, has in no doubt been adversely affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health policy and legislation is simply the set of public principles
aimed towards sound mental health. In Nigeria, a bill for the establishment of Mental Health Act was introduced in 2003 but was later withdrawn in April 2009. On March 20, 2013, the bill was re-introduced to the National Assembly. The Bill protects the rights of persons with mental disorders, ensure equal access to treatment and care, discourage stigma and discrimination amongst others. Sadly, up till this day, no bill of mental health policy has been passed into law in Nigeria.
The Mental health legislation and policy plays only one major role in surviving the COVID-19 pandemic- ensuring the psychological and neurological wellbeing of individuals. The following are ways in which mental health policy can help in surviving COVID-19 pandemic.
Firstly, Mental health legislation and policy provides a platform for
catering for the psychological welfare of COVID-19 patients. No one is oblivious of the mental havoc which the Corona virus has indirectly wreaked on its victims. Many patients are diagnosed with depression which arises as a result of the stigmatization they often face from the public. While some patients put up with this stigma others find a means of escaping the isolation centers increasing the figures of infected people. The Mental health legislation and policy then comes to play- if in put in place -by making provision for access to mental health care and services in various COVID-19 isolation centers.
Furthermore, the mental health policy and legislation avails for
provision of mental health care and services even to the so- called ‘COVID-19 health workers’. A cross-sectional study of 1257 healthcare workers in 34
hospitals equipped with fever wards for patients with COVID-19 in China showed that a considerable proportion of healthcare workers reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress. Mental health policy makes provision for the mental welfare of health officials .Thus, helping such workers perform more efficiently and thereby increasing our overall chance of surviving the
In conclusion, it is no longer news, the psychological trauma
encountered even by uninfected people as a result of the pandemic. Loss of job, separation from family and friends and so many other crises caused by the pandemic have cost those that are not infected a lot often leading to serious psychological and neurological effects and sometimes death. All these, mental health and legislation is able to solve by making provision for access to mental health care and professional services for uninfected people.