The Citizens Advocacy Group on Mental Health has called on the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to actively include mental health in its guidelines, emphasising the necessity for accessible and affordable care.
Speaking on behalf of the group, the founder of the Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative (MHEI), Mr. Ameh Zion conveyed the urgency of the matter during a press briefing in Abuja on Monday.
Zion underscored the concern for the substantial number of Nigerians grappling with mental health issues, emphasising the sorry state of mental healthcare in the country. “Mental healthcare is in a sorry state given that we have more than 60 million Nigerians suffering from various mental illnesses, and only about 10 per cent of them were able to access appropriate care,” he stated.
He highlighted that the inclusion of mental health in NHIA guidelines would have a positive impact on individuals, families, communities and the nation at large. Addressing the silent battle many Nigerians face with mental health issues, Zion stressed that the consequences of untreated mental health conditions extend beyond individuals to impact families, communities, and the nation as a whole.
Zion envisioned a Nigeria where mental health receives the same importance as physical health, emphasising the interconnectedness of mental and physical well-being. He argued that neglecting mental health could adversely affect overall health.
By incorporating mental health in the NHIA guidelines, Zion believes it would encourage the integration of mental health services with primary healthcare, fostering a holistic approach to healthcare delivery. He emphasised that the move is essential for promoting equitable access to mental healthcare, reducing stigma, improving overall health outcomes and addressing the economic impact of mental health disorders in Nigeria.
The NHIA’s guidelines cover various aspects, including enrollment, benefits packages and accreditation of healthcare providers, aiming to ensure transparency, accountability and efficiency in implementing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The inclusion of mental health in these guidelines aligns with the advocacy group’s vision for comprehensive and accessible healthcare services in the country.