Media practitioners in the South-East region are urging governments at all levels to prioritize mental health issues and improve facilities at the Primary healthcare level to effectively address mental health cases. The call was made during a One Day Seminar held at Amaudo Itumbauzo in Bende LGA. The seminar, titled “Changing The Narratives In Mental Health, The Role Of The Media,” was organized by the Methodist Church Nigeria, Amaudo Integrated Mental Health Foundation, in partnership with Abia State Government, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Enugu, and Amaudo UK.
The seminar aimed to educate 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 issued a communique, calling on the Federal Government to make the study of mental health and related courses more attractive to address the shortage of manpower in the mental health sub-sector.
Furthermore, they urged for increased budgetary allocations to tackle mental health issues and provide incentives for medical practitioners and journalists in the field. Additionally, they emphasized the need to strengthen relevant government agencies responsible for regulating drug use to restrict access to drugs, particularly among the younger population.
State Governments were also called upon to domesticate and implement the new mental health act that was recently signed into law by the previous administration of President Mohammadu Buhari. Experts in mental health were advised to engage in discussions with the media to educate the public, while families of those affected by mental ill health should be encouraged to provide appropriate support and avoid stigmatization.
Recognizing the challenge of inadequate knowledge in this area, the participants stressed the importance of regular seminars and training for media practitioners on mental health issues to equip them properly, eliminate bias in their reporting, and improve the coverage of mental health matters.