Depression Increases Risk of Cancer, Diabetes, Others —Health Min

Evidence has shown that depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, among others, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Ali Pate said.

Pate also noted that the presence of disease conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Neglected Tropical Diseases and other infectious diseases such as COVID-19 could increase the risk for mental health conditions.

Pate made this known on Tuesday at an event to commemorate the 2023 World Mental Health Day with the theme: “Mental Health is a universal human right.”

The theme aims to improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect everyone’s mental health as a universal human right.

The minister said good mental health was crucial at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and old age.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

“The promotion of good mental health and wellbeing is everybody’s business, therefore, the need to improve the mental health of all people in Nigeria is increasingly becoming a priority. We must show commitment that will improve people’s mental health using all available platforms in our society.

“Regardless of who you are or where you are, everyone has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes the right to be protected from mental health risks, the right to available, accessible, acceptable, and good quality care, and the right to liberty, independence, and inclusion in the community.

“Having a mental health condition should not be the reason to deprive a person of their human rights or to exclude them from decisions about their own health. Yet people with mental health conditions continue to experience a wide range of human rights violations globally. Many are excluded from community life and discriminated against, while many more cannot access the mental health care they need or can only access care that violates their human rights,” he stated.

The minister said the WHO 2022 global status report on mental health indicates that the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in depression and anxiety by more than 25 per cent in the first year, adding to nearly one billion people living with mental health conditions globally.

“People living with mental health conditions are among the most underserved with treatment gap ranging between 55 per cent and 90 per cent in high and low-income countries respectively. Mental health conditions are responsible for more of the global burden of disease than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, diabetes or transport injuries. They account for about 15 per cent of the global disease burden, three-quarters of which is found in low- and middle-income countries.

“Mental health condition contributes about 28 per cent to the Disability Adjusted Life Years arising from non-communicable diseases. There is a 10–20-year reduction in the life expectancy of people with severe mental health conditions compared to the general population.

“The Federal Ministry of Health is deeply committed to developing legislations, policies, guidelines and interventions aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of all people in Nigeria. This is demonstrable by the progress the Ministry has made in the last year in this regard,” he noted.

The minister added that the ministry was currently in the process of developing an implementation roadmap for the newly enacted National Mental Health Act, and it would be finalised and validated before the end of the year.

“When completed, it would be the guiding document for the phased implementation of the provisions of the Act thus setting the pace for the transformation of the delivery of mental health services in Nigeria,” Pate said.