A professor of psychiatry, Joseph Adeyemi, has said that no fewer than 800,000 people commit suicide yearly due to depression, yet policies on mental challenges remain archaic.
Professor Adeyemi, who spoke in Lagos at the presentation of the book Shadows in the Mirror: the Many Faces of Depression, written by Dr. Vivian Ikem, said the Mental Health Act, enacted in the 1900s, was last reviewed in 1959 despite medical improvements made over the years.
He said: “Our laws should keep up with current situations, but we have remained static; the way we were in 1959.”
Adeyemi described the book as “spectacular,” praising the author for “coming to help” those in the field of psychiatry.
According to him, it was difficult to get depression patients to accept the fact of their illnesses.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, represented by General Manager, Lagos Television, Deji Balogun, said the issue of mental health had not received the attention it deserved.
He said that the symptoms of depression could easily be observed, yet people turn a blind eye to the plight of victims, with attendant costs on the economy.
“This publication by Dr Vivian Ikem is a timely wake-up call to government and everybody in the society that a smile, a word of encouragement and understanding would go a long way in curtailing the destructive effect of depression in our society,” Ambode said.
All Progressives Congress, APC, National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, described the author as a woman of “excellent intellect” and “unmatchable lucidity.”
Represented by Mr. Sunday Dare, Tinubu said depression was a global problem, with 400 million people suffering from it, 12 percent (48 million) of which are Nigerians.
Calling the publication “a terrific book,” Tinubu said he had a dream that someday, the author would be celebrated across the country.
The former Lagos State Governor said for the author, a Ph.D holder in Chemical Engineering, to write so convincingly about a field of medicine shows her “intellectual discipline, curiosity and intellectual responsibility.”
The author, in her remarks, said having suffered from depression, she felt she needed to help others.
“I am happy that life gave me lemons, but I am able to make lemonade out of it,” she said.
According to her, many do not realize they were going through depression. She called for more sensitivity and compassion for depressed persons.