The House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to pay adequate attention to incidences of suicide, other mental health challenges and their attendant effects on the citizens.
This is just as the lawmakers want the apex government working in sync with the Ministry of Health and the National Orientation Agency to establish counseling centres nationwide to provide counseling services to those battling mental health challenges.
The lawmakers at a plenary session on Wednesday also tasked the Federal Ministry of Health to collaborate with relevant health institutions in ensuring that research conducted on mental health are utilised for the good of the society.
In a resolution following a motion on the need to prioritise and implement the provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2021, to tackle suicide and other related ills in the country, the House mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to evaluate the implementation of the content of the Mental Health Act and conduct a needs assessment for the full implementation of the Act.
Sponsor of the motion, Uchenna Nwachukwu, representing Nnewi-North, Nnewi-South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency of Anambra State, stressed that the responsibility of government at all level is to protect and safeguard the lives of Nigerians as provided in Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which provides that the security, safety, and welfare of the people of Nigeria shall be the primary purpose of the government.
The lawmaker recalled that on July 12, 2023, a teenager took her life after being raped in Oyo State, adding that many similar cases happened frequently without getting reported.
In his words, suicide incidence often times do not get to the media owing to cultural perception of it as a taboo.
Continuing, the lawmaker added that “In January 2023, Joseph Olona, a 300-level student at the Federal University of Technology, Akure and 50-year-old Ojo Ogundeji both committed suicide on January 14 and 23, respectively.”
He also argued that risk factors for suicide such as mental health conditions, substance use, access to lethal means, prolonged stress, unemployment, financial crisis, and child abuse and neglect pose huge threats to the country is not adequately addressed.
Nwachukwu called for increased awareness campaigns particularly on how those suffering from mental issues can receive help in accordance with the provision of the Act.