Clincal Psychology Experts on Wednesday called on the federal government to increase the budgetary allocation to the Health Ministry to tackle the menace of mental health and addictive behaviour.
The Experts stated this at the 2023 Annual National Congress and Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Association of Clinical Psychologists, NACP, held at the Ekiti State University , Ado-Ekiti, EKSU with the theme: “The Practice of Clinical Psychology: Emerging Threat of Addictive Behaviour and Mental Health.”
According to the National President of NACP, Prof. Gboyega Abikoye, there is an urgent need for the government to make treatment more affordable saying that treatment of addiction is very expensive.
The Professor of Clinical Psychology noted that the demand-reduction approach is key towards tackling the menace of addictive and substance abuse which is on the rise in the country.
He called on relevant stakeholders, media, government and funding agencies to partner with the association to reach out to the citizens on the serious health challenges of addictive behaviour and mental health.
His words: “The federal government should give more attention to mental health issues. In Nigeria, the health sector has been receiving a disproportionately low budgetary allocation, relative to most other ministries. Then within the health sector, the mental health sector has been receiving less than 6% of the budget of ministry of health and that is too poor.
“According to the World Health Organization, it shouldn’t be less than 20% but consistently over the years, it has been less than 6%. The federal government should increase allocation to the health ministry and to the mental health sector particularly make treatment more affordable.
“The mass media play a very key role. We are liaising with the National Assembly and other stakeholders and even funding agencies. We have been involved with the United Nations Office on Crime and Drug, European Union. We have been advocating at those levels. We are hopeful that it will trickle down to people that should know about of all of these things.
“Prevention is what we are preaching. Let the people know that once you get involved, it’s cumbersome and expensive even in government hospitals, you pay a lot to treat addiction. Treatment of addiction is very expensive and it’s lengthy that it’s a chronic disease.
“We have observed in recent times that the menance of addictive and substance abuse is on the rise in Nigeria and globally and appears to deferred all solutions.
“Unfortunately, many people don’t know the link between addictive behaviour and mental health per say. They are very closely interrelated. Addictive behaviour most times lead to serious health challenges and this is the reason we decided that this year’s theme should focus on this twin trait of addictive behaviour and mental health.
“Unfortunately, in Nigeria these are issues that has not received enough attention. We are advocating the use of evidence-based approach to tackle this problem. It has been shown all over the world that merely arresting and incarcerating drug users does not work. All the farms that they have been burning has not solved the problem.
“What have been shown globally to work is the demand-reduction approach by so doing, you appeal to people’s mind, you make people see why they shouldn’t do a detrimental behaviour and engage in risky behaviours.”
On his part, the Ekiti State Convener of NACP, Prof. Olu Olatunji called on government to implement the recommendations to solve the myriad of the problem of addictive behaviour in the country.
According to Olatunji; “The problem of addictive behaviour is the problem of the society and we want to partner with government to solve these problems. We are professionals. If government can give us listening ears, listen to our recommendations and implement it, then the problem of addictive behaviour in our society will be solved.”
The Vice-Chancellor of EKSU, Prof. Edward Olanipekun, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development), Prof. Ayantunji Adeleke equally advocated for the implementation of the findings and recommendations to end the menace.