… Seeks Collaborative Multi-Sectoral Approach for Improved Mental Health Services

Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of Health, is set to hold a mental health conference geared towards drawing attention to the importance of a multi-sectoral approach to providing improved mental health interventions for citizens as well as charting a positive and realistic course towards mental, social health assets and infrastructures needed in the State.

The conference themed: “Responding to the Mental Health Needs of a 21st Century Megacity”, is scheduled to hold at Landmark Event Centre, Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday, 18th January 2022.

Giving details about the Conference, State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi said the Mental Health Conference is an offshoot of the Livable City Conference held in 2013, which led to the drafting and enactment of the Mental Health Law of 2019 and the proposed establishment of a State-owned tertiary psychiatric hospital, amongst others.

He said: “This conference is a sequel to a previously organised event in 2013 where the Governor of Lagos State, top Government functionaries from the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, Private Sector Care Providers, Mental Health Professionals and Social Justice as well as Security Experts gathered to discuss, engage, and address the Mental and Social Needs of Lagos State”.

The Commissioner noted that the conference will be a forum and platform for key Government Ministries and Agencies, Healthcare Professionals, Private Sector, Civil Society Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations to discuss prevailing issues in Mental Health, identify opportunities and areas for collaboration, as well as professional networking in the Mental Health sub-sector.

He added that the outlined objectives of the conference include highlighting the growing scourge of Mental Health issues in Lagos State and providing a forum for dialogue amongst academics, decision-makers, policy implementers and the society, with a view to developing new policies and redesigning an existing one.

Other conference objectives, according to him, are providing a platform for all stakeholders to identify opportunities for strengthening investments towards a sustainable and collaborative mental health strategy in the State; displaying the achievements and strategic interventions that have been employed in implementing the Lagos State Mental Health Policy, as well as proffering and harmonising multi-sectoral recommendations in tackling the mental and social health needs of Lagos as an urban State.

Abayomi explained that conference participants will be drawn from a cross-section of the society with the representation of top decision-makers from the public and private sectors who have the right influence and expertise to drive the purpose of the engagement.

While noting that the last Livable City Conference provided the mileage needed to create the environment for improvement in the legal framework and access to mental health service, the Commissioner said the State government, through the plenary engagements of the mental health conference, intends to motivate and stimulate improved investments in mental health from the private sector and donor agencies.
He added that government will through the conference demonstrate to the international community, Lagos’ unequivocal commitment to Mental Healthcare and create a potential for global collaborations as well as allow all stakeholders to develop a clearer understanding of the emerging issues towards developing short and long-term improvement approaches.

Abayomi said experts who would speak at the conference include the lead speakers Dr. Vincent Udenze, a United Kingdom-based Consultant Psychiatrist and CEO of Intersect Consortium in Nigeria and Prof. Akinyinka Omigbodun, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.

Others, he said include Prof Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, a leading health lawyer in Nigeria; Dr. Yewande Oshodi, a Consultant Psychiatrist and a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychiatry, LUTH; Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik, a Senior Lecturer and Consultant Psychiatrist with the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and Prof. Abiodun Adewuya, a Professor of Public Mental Health and Chairman, Lagos Mental Health Advisory Committee.

The Commissioner harped on the need for improved mental health services in the country, stressing that in recent years the role of mental health in sustainable development has received greater recognition, especially with the global public health crisis.

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