The call came Thursday, at Amaudo Itumbauzo in Bende LGA at the end of a One Day Seminar organised for Media Practitioners in the Southeast with the theme: “Changing The Narratives In Mental Health, The Role Of The Media”, organised by the Methodist Church Nigeria, Amaudo Integrated Mental Health Foundation, in partnership with Abia State Government, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Enugu, and Amaudo UK, on Thursday.
In a communique issued at the end of the seminar which was aimed at educating the media practitioners on basic mental health issues and their role in creating awareness for efficient and human-right-based mental health care in Nigeria, the participants called on the Federal Government to make the study of mental health and other related courses attractive to address the shortage of manpower in the mental health sub-sector.
While calling for increased budgetary provisions towards tackling mental health issues and provision of incentives for medical practitioners and Journalists in the field, the participants also called for the strengthening of relevant government agencies saddled with the responsibility of regulating drug use to restrict access to drugs, especially among the younger population.
They called on Media organisations “to design and dedicate adequate time to publicising mental health issues in their various media outfits as a way of enhancing sensitization of the public”.
They equally called on State Governments to domesticate and implement the new mental health act recently signed into law by the immediate past administration of President Mohammadu Buhari, advising that experts in mental health area should be open to discussing mental health-related issues with the media as a way of educating the public while families of victims of mental ill health should be encouraged to accommodate and assist them appropriately and avoid stigmatization.
Lack of adequate knowledge in the area as a challenge was identified, hence the need for regular seminars/training for Media Practitioners on mental health issues as a way of properly equipping them to eliminate bias in their reportage and enhance the publicity given to mental health issues.