The Federal Government is building 15 mental health clinics, one in each of the senatorial districts in the five states of the South East, reports.

Medical Director of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu, Monday Igwe, who disclosed this at the end of year and thanksgiving ceremony of the hospital, said six of the clinics have been completed and fully equipped.

He said the hospital was established to promote, prevent, treat and rehabilitate persons with mental ill-health. He acknowledged the stigma associated with visiting psychiatric hospitals to seek help, including the barrier it causes.

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He said the hospital is opening community mental health services across the South East to enable people access mental health services in their communities.

Igwe said: "The projects were abandoned because of poor funding. My administration saw this as priority and started funding the contracts within the limits of our capital projects budget releases. We have completed, furnished and taken over six centres awaiting deployment of staff. Other nine are ongoing and would be completed and furnished soon."
He lamented the prevalence of drug use in the South East citing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimate of about 13.8 percent.

He said it is the third highest in the country following South South and South West with 22 percent and 16.6 percent, respectively.

"This figure simply means one out of every seven persons in the South East between 15 to 64 years of age has used an illicit drug. This means a lot to any zone that cares about its population. Drug use disorders is associated with both health and psychosocial implications. The health issues have been outlined, but it is important to note that health had direct effect on productivity. In other words, an unhealthy population is a less productive one.

"Secondly, drug use disorders can be linked to criminality. Persons craving for drugs can do anything, including stealing to fund their habit. Similarly, money raised from selling drugs can be used to sustain criminality. Other social consequences such as family difficulties and economic adversities are already staring at us in the region," he said.

On the imminent spike in mental health cases in the region due to the current menace of deadly drug, methamphetamine, popularly called Mkpuru Mmiri, the neuropsychiatric consultant said the hospital would intensify effort in public mental health education.

"This will hopefully enlighten the population, especially with regards to the disease model of addiction as against what most people believe is a 'moral failure'," he said.


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