LAGOS TO HOST MENTAL HEALTH CONFERENCE

 LAGOS TO HOST MENTAL HEALTH CONFERENCE

…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 provide improved mental health interventions for citizens as well as chart a positive and realistic course towards providing the mental and 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 organized 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 and Security Experts gathered to discuss, engage, and address the Mental and Social Needs of Lagos State.

“This event served as the springboard for the implementation of the State’s Mental Health Policy, drafting and enactment of the Lagos State Mental Health Law and strategic programs including integration of Mental Health into existing prevention and health promotion programs of the State to improve access to mental health services”.

The Commissioner noted that the mental conference will be a forum and a platform for key Government Ministries and Agencies, Healthcare Professionals, Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations 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 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; display the achievements and strategic interventions which have been employed in implementing the Lagos State Mental Health Policy and proffering and harmonizing 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 representation of top decision makers from the public and private sectors with the right influence and expertise to drive the purpose of the engagement.

While noting that the last Livable City conference provided the mileage need 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 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 develop a clearer understanding of the emerging issues towards developing short- and long-term improvement approaches for a more livable city and identify resource prospects required to achieve them.

“The Event will consist of two keynote speakers and two panel sessions. The keynote lectures; “Shaping the Future: The Impact of Urbanization on Mental Health  and “Building and Sustaining Investments in Mental Health” will provide a current and professional perspective on the subject areas and will be delivered by experts in the field of Mental Health.

“It is also intended that from the multi-stakeholder engagements, the State as a whole, with its partners in both the public and private sectors will collaborate and develop sustainable short- and long-term improvement approaches for a more livable city”, Abayomi said.

He 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 & Gynaecology and Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.

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

The Commissioner harps 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.

“With the growing incidence of substance abuse, which have significant mental health implications, and increasing self-awareness and demand for care, it becomes imperative to review the national approach to mental healthcare. For us as a State, this is important to ensure that every Lagosian has access to effective and sustainable mental health service delivery models that are robust and sustainable”, he said.

Ayomide Oyewole

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