MENTAL HEALTH LEGISLATION AND POLICY: ROLE IN SURVIVING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC (Desmond Dickson)

Everyone can feel the heat, the fever and difficulty in breathing.In fact, almost everyone is coughing and sneezing in pain. An aspect of medical science that has long suffered neglect is mental health. Nigeria as a country needs an amended mental health legislation in sync with present times.
On November 2019, the senate passed a mental health bill for a second reading. Progress continued in February 2020, when the upper chamber held a public hearing on the proposed law. Going by historical antecedents, one can only hope it does not
become like previous bills which did not see the daylight. The COVID 19 times has clearly shown that mental health is a vital aspect of our lives that should not be neglected.

It has been a rough ride for front line health practitioners. Faced with, heightened psychological distress and other mental problems, medical practitioners are also victims of mental health challenges. Director General of Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu told the Guardian that frontline health practitioners are going through a lot of stress and psychological trauma and Nigerian should support them and not criticize them. He said ” Everybody should support health workers. Stop criticizing them in the middle of a war. Help the health worker, encourage them and buy them food if possible, be kind to them. We need them now more than ever. They are in the middle of everything “. This clearly shows that medical practitioners are no supermen or superwomen. They are faced with mental health challenges during difficult situations too.

The pandemic has equally pushed Nigerian parents to the doldrums of depression, fear and anxiety. Ushering in austere times, the COVID 19 has made it difficult for parents to carter for their children and protect themselves at the same time. BBC news had a feel of the rough times these parents were going through to carter for their kids in a short interview with a single mom in the suburb of Lagos. Ms Ogunsola is forced to walk more than fifty metres to a broken water pipe for her supply. ” It’s my children I am worried about “, she said. All four of them are lying on the floor as it rained outside. A single window was the only source of air into the room and it could be hot at night. If I am not able to go out and sell, how will they ( children) survive, asked Mrs. Ogunsola, who earns money by selling fruits and vegetables by the roadside. Situations like this can make many parents feel gloomy, hopeless and bitter especially when there is no one to turn to for help. This could lead to a deterioration in their mental health. It is crystal clear that Nigeria needs a modern mental health legislation. If the citizens and government cannot do it, who will? There is no better time than now. Nigeria has come of AGE!

References

  1. Guardian Nigeriaaintaining Mental Sanity in the COVID 19 Pandemic
    https://m.guardian.ng/life/the-place-of-mental-sanity-in-the-covid-19-pandemic/
    Date: April 5, 2020
    Date accessed: September 8, 2020

2 .BBC Nigeria
Lagos Lockdown over Coronavirus: How Will My Children Survive?
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-africa-52093343
Date: March 31, 2020
Date accessed: September 8, 2020

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Covid 19 Support
With the declaration of the COVID-19 as an international pandemic, Protostar Initiative has shifted our resources and efforts to supporting the social and mental health effects of the emergency while still achieving our mission.
Covid-19 Support
With the declaration of the COVID-19 as an international pandemic, Protostar Initiative has shifted our resources and efforts to supporting the social and mental health effects of the emergency while still achieving our mission.
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