Use of technology will increase access to mental care— Psychiatrist

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By Kemi Akintokun

Leveraging technology in mental health care is important as it will increase accessibility as well as enhance diagnosis and monitoring, says Dr Olusola Olowookere, a Consultant Psychiatrist.

Olowookere, the Chief Executive Officer of GreyHub Therapeutic Centre, Lagos, made the assertion at a programme organised by the centre to commemorate 2024 Mental Health Awareness Month.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mental Health Awareness Month is observed  yearly every May to increase awareness about the vital role mental health plays in our overall health and well-being.

He explained that the ratio of mental health experts to the population of country had denied many Nigerians the opportunity to have quick and easy access to mental care.

“Statistics show that one in every four person will experience one form of mental health issue, either diagnosed or undiagnosed problem.

“In Nigeria, we have about 150 psychiatrists to over 200 million people and that is why people don’t have quick and easy access to care.

“We have to start leveraging on technology to be able to have wider access for patients to quick help.

“For instance, patients can complete few sessions online and can be screened for common mental health  problems by talking to a certified therapist or psychologist online”.

Olowookere, who is also a Forensic Medical Examiner, said the programme with the theme “Wellness Wonderland”, was organised to create awareness on mental health related issues.

According to him, mental health plays a core and important role in the overall wellness of people, depending also on various factors including family background, trauma, life experience, relationship among others.

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“The whole concept of this gathering is to raise awareness about emotional and mental health problem in our society.

“Over the years, the conversation had not be heard enough and that is why we are using every space and opportunity we have to pass the message across about emotional awareness.

“This aspect of human health is central to stigma and this has prevented a lot of people to seek help from the right people,” he said.

The CEO added that the 2023 a Mental health bill passed by former President Muhammadu Buhari – led administration would help to increase access to fund , community intervention and access to prompt services.

Speaking also, Dr Tolu Ajomale, the Director in Charge of Special Project and Mental Health at the Lagos State Ministry of Health, said the state had put in place measure to address mental health related issues.

Ajomale said: “The Lagos State government has been in the forefront of addressing mental related issues.

“The state passed a mental bill in 2019 and that happens to be the first in Nigeria as a way of providing help to people who needs it.

“A helpline was created so that people struggling with their mental health can speak to people who can manage their issues.

“The state has done a lot of training for emergency medical personnel to guard them on how to de-escalate issues related to it,” he said. (NAN)

 

Edited by Vivian Ihechu

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