Thursday, June 8, 2023

Psychiatrist urges Buhari to sign mental health bill into law

The expert said the content of Nigeria’s current Lunacy Act of 1916 was “written in 1800”, and categorise persons with mental illness as lunatics.

• March 11, 2022
Buhari signing
Buhari signing

A Professor of Psychiatry, Taiwo Sheikh, has asked the federal government to sign the Mental Health Bill into law to promote the mental health well-being of Nigerians.

Mr Sheikh, who is the immediate past President of Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, made the appeal in an interview in Lagos on Friday.

According to him, signing the mental health bill into law will help to reposition Nigeria’s health sector to meet emerging challenges.

The psychiatrist noted that the bill, which had passed first and second reading, and the public hearing stage, was currently awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The National Assembly (NASS) has looked into the bill and passed it to the President for his assent.

“Signing the bill is necessary and very urgent because the mental health Nigeria is using today is the Lunacy Act of 1916 and the content is that of 1800.

“It is a Lunacy Act of 1916, but what is written inside it was what have been written in 1800; that is more than 200 years ago,” the psychiatrist said.

He said that the Lunacy Act of 1916 categorised persons with mental illness as lunatics who should be disassociated from the society and locked up somewhere.

“I want the President to be aware of this, and save us by signing the bill so that the country can have a compassionate law, a caring law, a law that understands the modern language of mental health in Nigeria,” Mr Sheikh added.


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