Delighted to usher in new year workstream with the long awaited news that Nigeria’s Mental Health Bill harmonised by both Chambers of the 9th National Assembly in 2021 has received Presidential Assent.
Intended to protect persons with mental health needs, and establish a National Department for Mental and Substance Abuse Services for effective management of mental health in Nigeria and other related matters, this legislative milestone provides a structural pathway for the enhancement and regulation of mental health and substance abuse services and cast aside the challenges that perpetuate the social stigma of the victims of mental illness.
I commend the diligent and dedicated efforts of Distinguished Senator Dr Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe of Kwara Central, and 9th Senate Committee on Health Chairman, whose sponsorship of the Mental Health Act and Law which replaces the archaic and outdated Lunacy Act of 1958, as a great victory for mental health care, practice, and outcomes of wellbeing in Nigeria.
Decades of advocacy and programming by my Wellbeing Foundation Africa to transform the availability and quality of behavioural health services, alongside advocacy stakeholders affirm that transforming mental health legislation is crucial for protecting the rights of a vulnerable section of society, ensuring community integration, a high provision and quality of care, and allowing for the improvement of access to resources at a grassroots level and beyond.
Knowing that the 3 areas most likely to make the most significant contribution to Nigeria attaining the United Nations SDGs are mental health, oncology and maternal newborn health, we look forward to further collaboration across all sectors of Nigeria to implement and domesticate this transformative mental health legislation, making it a national priority to help improve the behavioural health outcomes of Nigeria, and safeguard the care of all Nigerian people for generations to come.