… Expands Access to Mental Health Care
As Lagos joins the rest of the world to commemorate Year 2020 World Mental Health Day, the State Government said it has established a Mental Health Helpline – ‘Lagos Lifeline – 0909000MIND (09090006463)’ to provide citizens with access to mental health information and help including telephone counseling, social support and referral where appropriate.
State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi who stated this today while reviewing the implementation of various mental health policies, programmes and projects initiated by the State government to improve citizens access to mental health care noted that the drive towards ensuring that all people have access to mental health services that will allow for early prompt diagnosis and qualitative care and treatment has been reinvigorated with the establishment of the helpline.
“The Lagos Lifeline is designed to bridge the gap in the availability of mental health service. The service provides simple counselling and psychotherapy for citizens who are either seeking care for themselves or a loved one through the use of existing technology.
“Manned by trained counsellors, the Lifeline also provides access to information, counselling services, referrals and networking and other social intervention services such as domestic violence, sexual assault and substance abuse”, the Commissioner said.
He explained that the service provided by ‘Lagos Lifeline’ is available from Monday to Friday, between the hours of 9am and 5pm daily adding that citizens can also access the lifeline by sending email to [email protected]
While calling citizens to engage the lifeline to seek mental health support and care, the Commissioner stated that the aim of setting up the service is to improve access to simple diagnostic, counselling and referral services for Lagosians, either as first point-of-call, or for follow-up care,
He noted that the goals of the service are to alleviate the strain on existing public health resources, serve as a Mental Health campaign Feedback system and create valuable data points that can be used to track prevalence and cycle of care for Mental Health in Lagos State.
“The solution aims to address the widespread shortage of mental healthcare professionals; poor access to mental health services for patients in hard-to-reach areas; stigma to mental health issues and patients who need treatment; poor linkages for victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence, Suicidal Threats and Emergency Medical Services; poor willingness of First Time diagnosis or suspected cases to seek care from counsellors and psychologists and poor access to information and referral to neighboring PHCs with mental health service and support groups for chronic conditions”, Abayomi added.
He reiterated the commitment of the State government to expanding mental health care services by ensuring that citizens have access to services that will promote their mental well-being adding that the theme for year 2020 World Mental Health day significantly gives credence to effort of the Lagos State government to increase access to mental health care.
“The theme for this year’s World Mental Day celebration – ‘Mental Health For All; Greater Investment- Greater Access. Everyone, Everywhere” is apt for us in Lagos State as it tallies with our effort to increase and improve access to mental health care for all and gives us another opportunity to advocate for Universal Health Coverage for Mental Health”, Commissioner said.
Highlighting various strategies employed by the State government to improve access to mental health, Abayomi stated that integration of Mental Health into Primary Healthcare has been revitalized. He added that healthcare workers in all the 57 Flagship Facilities have been trained to improve early identification and prompt referral.
“We have also integrated some of our secondary facilities into the Mental Healthcare pathway so patients do not have to visit specialist hospitals or teaching hospitals before they have access to qualified specialists and these include the General Hospitals in Gbagada, Lagos, Ikorodu, Epe and Alimosho.
“Additionally, the State established the Lagos State Government Employee Wellness Centre to ensure that State Civil Servants have access to Psychosocial Support which will not only improve their productivity but also drive mental health promotion, improve emotional intelligence and garner a larger advocacy body for Mental Health for Public Servants”, the Commissioner noted.
He also disclosed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has given approval for the expansion of Behavioral Medicine Ward in LASUTH to improve access to specialist care.
“We know there is a lot of work to be done and we are convinced that community participation is key to reduce stigma, increase awareness about Mental Health and increase access, and so we are expanding our stakeholder network with professional bodies, civil society groups and the private sector to drive the State’s Mental Health Agenda”.
“On our part, the work continues and we are confident that with the implementation of the current Lagos State Mental law of 2019 which provides for the protection and care of persons suffering from Mental Health challenges and the support of all stakeholders, Lagos will be able to ensure Mental Health for all in tandem with this year’s theme”, Abayomi said