Group Organises Mental Health Zoom Talk Saturday, 10 October

Group Organises Mental Health Zoom Talk Saturday, 10 October

Thursday, October 8, 2020 1:22 pm

Zoom meeting. Photo credit: Cnet

A group, Transforming, Uplifting and Reforming Nigeria (TURN), a global coalition of eminent Nigerians devoted to helping Nigeria benefit from good governance, will open a two-hour Conference on Mental Health Legislation in Nigeria on Saturday October 10, 2020.

With a mandate to Transforming, Uplifting and Reforming Nigeria, TURN is conducting the virtual conference to commemorate this year’s world mental health day on Saturday. The focus is on the new Mental Health Bill currently before the National Assembly. This is contained in a press statement signed by Nelson Irobi, VP – Admin, TURN – Nigeria

The programme will transmit live across the globe at 4.00 p.m. (Nigerian time). It will feature three professors in the field of mental health, one medical doctor, a nutritionist and mental health advocate. An international lawyer and arbitrator with tested expertise on mental health issues is also among the panelists.

Goodwill messages would be delivered from representatives of the World Health Organization, WHO and the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Confirmed speakers include the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, one of the sponsors of the new bill. He provides a legislative perspective on the proposed mental health legal framework. Before going into politics, Dr. Oloriegbe trained and practiced medicine in Nigeria. He has been at the head of reforming Nigeria’s outdated law and the Nigerian national health insurance policy.

Professor Lateef Taiwo Sheikh, the President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN) will speak on the topic – Mental Health and Law: Current Practices.  Another speaker, Dr Jubril Abdulmalik, a lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ibadan will speak on the possible role of Non-governmental organizations in mental health.

One of the panelists is a mental health advocate, Ms. Sylvarlene Njoku. Ms Njoku will speak on the topic – Mental Health: A Service User’s Perspective. She will  bring her knowledge of how our society perceives people with mental health challenges. Ms Njoku comes with a deep background on public perception of mental health and expertise on mental health advocacy at national level.

Bringing a legal perspective to mental health at the forum is Ms. Kemi Oduwole. Oduwole trained as a lawyer and practices law in Nigeria and Ontario, Canada. Her area of expertise are, among others, mental health law, immigration, child protection and family law. She is a published author in her field of expertise and an advocate for mental health reforms.

From the Canadian capital, AG Ahmed, a forensic psychiatrist and associate professor, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa will speak on the topic Crime and Mental Health. Ahmed is a clinical researcher at the Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR) and is co-director, the Centre for Rational and Cognitive Therapies. He is a member of the Ontario and Nunavut Canadian Criminal Code Review Boards. He is the current president of TURN-Nigeria.

A senior media expert, Ms. Thecla Wilkie, will moderate Saturday’s mental health Zoom talk. Ms. Wilkie has worked with the Nigerian Television Authority for nearly two decades, researching, writing and presenting award-winning programmes.

The audience will be drawn from the media, mental and health care providers, citizens residing in Nigeria and Diaspora, and interest groups acrosss the globe. Experts are expected to field questions from participants at the open session.

Members of the media are specially requested to please provide coverage as mental health issues prominently feature among the challenges that Nigeria is grappling with at this critical moment in its existence.

Statistics indicates that Over 25% (50, 000,000) of Nigerians suffer from mental disorders, this staggering number is further aggravated by the general disposition and misconceptions of Nigerians to mental health challenges. Stigmatization, dehumanization and the current legal mental health framework in Nigeria have further exacerbated the plight of Nigerians with mental health challenges as the law literally criminalizes acts resulting from mental disorders, disheartening no doubt!

Curiously, the predicament of mental health maladministration is traced to the obsolete laws binding on mental disorders in Nigeria, which dates back to 1915. Unbreaking the chains around mental health issues is obviously predicated on the law!  While recent attempts to review the laws have brought ray of hope to victims of mental disorders, there are many contending issues and impasses that need to be addressed. This has prompted TURN to turn its attention to the mental health legislation debate in Nigeria with the intention of improving care of patients in and out of custody.

TURN is a diaspora non-governmental organization with a mandate to address critical issues relating to the humanitarian needs and services in Nigeria. It was formed in 2004 and has worked without much publicity on projects aimed at alleviating the suffering of Nigerians. It operates on the ideology that rests on a tripod of collaborations with reputable organizations of like minds within Nigeria and the diaspora who share the goals of transforming, uplifting and reforming our great country, Nigeria. TURN operates on the philosophy of giving back to the homeland.

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