The mental health policy recognizes the need for research that will provide data on mental health challenges of the state and serve as a platform for proper planning of effective and accessible mental health services in the state. These researches will also serve as a way of measuring the capacity of the state’s health system, to identify gaps and opportunities for implementing mental health interventions.
Prior the establishment of the Lagos State Mental Health Law, a thorough situation analysis and needs assessment on mental health problems was conducted. Recent community studies show that the lifetime prevalence of Common Mental Health Disorders (CMD) in Nigeria is about 9% (which ultimately translates to about 2 million citizens in Lagos State alone).
The results of the studies show that:
- There is a high rate of clinically significant common mental health disorders, alcohol and other psychoactive substance use disorders amongst the Lagos state population.
- Most of these disorders are un-reported by the affected individuals and may be unrecognized by the attending physician and health workers.
- These disorders affect the functional ability of the affected individual, leading to many working hours and days lost.
- The Lagos State mental health work force have few resources and manpower and cannot effectively cope with the high rate of common mental disorders.
- The estimated treatment gap for CMDs – i.e. the proportion of people with these disorders who would need treatment but do not have access to mental health care – is about 85%.
Consequently, the Lagos Lunacy Act – which has its roots in the Nigerian Lunacy Law 1920 – was reviewed and repealed, and the Lagos State Mental Health Bill was signed into Law.