By Leo Igwe
Humanists have asked the Enugu state government to step up the care and treatment of mental patients in the region. This call has become necessary following disturbing trends linked to lack of proper carire for mentally challenged individuals in the state. A humanist in Enugu, Mr. Chinedu, recounts his personal experiences:
“Last weekend, I boarded an Emene bus at Chris-Chemist. A mentally challenged woman (at the station) who was pregnant went into labor. Some people transferred her to a tricycle (known as Keke). Some women surrounded the Keke and were trying to help her deliver the baby when our bus left”.
Mr Chinedu went on to bemoan the lack of support for the mentally challenged persons in the state. “There is no sort of help for these people in this town. Neither welfare nor medical help. I have been wondering if the state government is unaware of this situation”
He went on to narrate a tragic incident where a mental patient murdered someone in a neighborhood:
“In the long run, we can also sensitize people to stop keeping mental patients at home, where people give them religious treatments. Last year. A mentally sick man in my neighborhood at Emene jumped into a residence through the fence and stabbed an old man to death. The sister to the mentally sick man kept him at home until he broke his ropes, took a knife, and ran away, resulting in the murder in less than 10 minutes. Mentally sick persons are left to roam the streets. People chain mental patients at traditional/religious healing centers. Left unattended, mentally challenged persons pose a huge risk to the society in general”.
In conclusion, he noted that it was the duty of the government to address this problem.
“The state government should put in place adequate measures to improve the mental health infrastructure and ensure that mentally challenged individuals get the care and support that they need”. This disturbing situation of mental health care applies not only to Enugu but to other states across the country. People with mental health issues are abused. They are demonized and subjected to violent exorcism by faith healers. People with mental health challenges are chained and locked up at some homes, at traditional health centers, at christian, Islamic faith clinics across the country. Mental patients are abandoned, and forced to live on the streets and eat from the refuse bins. This should not be the case.
Mental health patients deserve better care and treatment from the people and society.
Humanists are nonreligious and nontheistic individuals who work and campaign to realize a society guided by reason, science, and compassion.