The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that more than 116 million people are living with mental health conditions in African countries.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti revealed this on Monday in a message to mark World Mental Health Day with the theme; Make Mental Health and Wellbeing for All a Global Priority.
Mee said children and adolescents as young as 13 years, have been worst impacted due to abuse, social isolation, and other strains.
She said three years of social isolation, fear of diseases and death, and socio-economic challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, have all contributed to the growing mental health condition in the region already facing social and political crises.
She said all these have contributed to an estimated 25 percent global rise in depression and anxiety.
“Across the African Region, more than 116 million people were already estimated to be living with mental health conditions pre-pandemic,” she disclosed.
The global body expressed concern over suicide rates and abuse of alcohol among young people in the region.
It called for an urgent need to strengthen the regulatory system to close the gaps that allow young people to have limitless access to alcohol.
It said the shortage of psychiatrists, related medical personnel and inadequate financing for mental health remain the biggest limitation which negatively impacts efforts to expand Africa’s mental health workforce.
“As things stand, there are fewer than two mental health workers for every 100, 000 people, the majority of whom are psychiatric nurses and mental health nursing aids,” the regional head said.
Nigeria with a population of over 200 million people has about 300 psychiatrists, Daily Sun checks show.
WHO however said about 82 per cent of the African member states are receiving training on the management of mental health conditions, especially at the primary health level.
World Mental Health Day is marked on October 10 every year, to provide an opportunity to draw attention to the world’s and Africa’s growing mental health challenge.