Bauchi Inaugurates Mental Health Steering Committee, Rolls Out Helpline For Citizens

Wife of the Bauchi State governor, Hajiya Aisha Bala Mohammed, in collaboration with Plan International has inaugurated the State Steering Committee on Mental Health and rolled out helpline to the citizens for quick response on mental health issues.

Speaking during the ceremony held in Bauchi, Aisha said, “Let us champion mental health intervention as a collective responsibility. Together, we can create a world where mental well-being is prioritised, stigma is eradicated, and timely support is available to all. Remember, mental health matters, and our actions today shape the well-being of generations to come.”

Represented by the overseeing Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Development, Dahiru Abdullahi, Aisha said mental health is not merely the absence of illness; it encompasses emotional well-being, resilience, and the ability to cope with life’s challenges.

She reaffirmed that the ultimate goal of the administration is to have a fully functional, result-oriented, affordable, accessible and inclusive health services that focus more on the most disadvantaged, particularly people living in the rural areas, and the vulnerable population such as women, children and the elderly.

She said, “Traditionally, mental health services focused on secondary prevention, detecting and treating disorders after their onset. However, converging evidence highlights the potential of primary preventive and promotion strategies.”

Aisha further explained, “By addressing mental health early, we can prevent worsening conditions, reduce suffering, and enhance overall well-being. I therefore call the attention of all relevant stakeholders and partners to come up with innovations and strategies on how best mental health interventions in communities would be strengthened.

“It is in this view that the state mental health steering committee will be established, following directives from the FMoH. The mental health steering committee will ensure proper coordination, strengthening and implementation of mental health interventions in the state,” she said.

She added, “This government is fully aware of the challenges in the health sector, including that of mental health services.

We are also fully aware that to have a fully functional health system, we must revitalise our health facilities, strengthen our coordination mechanism, improve our systems in terms of transparency and accountability, and invest heavily on our human resource for health and research. This will not only address the identified challenges, but also reverse the negative health indices that are associated with it.

“According to World Health Organisation (WHO), one in eight people globally is living with mental health conditions, with depression being one of the leading causes of disability and the most common emotional problem experienced during adolescent age. Yet globally, people with mental health conditions continue to receive inadequate services.

“It is no doubt that many Nigerians are going through different forms of mental health challenges; the WHO status report on mental health in Nigeria estimates that 20% or around 40 million Nigerians are affected by mental health conditions with only about 10% of those with seriously disabling mental health conditions receiving any treatment within the previous 12 months.”

Aisha thanked Global Affairs Canada for providing funds through Plan International to set-up a mental health toll-free line to provide mental health and psychosocial support services to individuals in needs, especially the adolescents.

Earlier in his remarks, the state’s Commissioner of Health, Dr Adamu Umar Sambo, said with the inauguration of the steering committee, the issues of mental health will get the required attention, adding that the steering committee will be accorded the necessary support to enable it to perform its responsibilities as contained in the term of reference for its operation.

Daily Trust