Breaking the Chains: Nigeria's New Mental Health Law and its Impact on Care and Rights
The New Mental Health Law in Nigeria and Sustainable Financing
Keywords:Mental Health Law, Nigeria, sustainable financing, culture
On January 5th, 2023, the current Nigerian Mental Health Bill was signed into law, replacing the outdated and inhumane Lunacy Act of 1958. Despite the significance of mental health as a fundamental aspect of overall well-being, previous meaningful legislation in Nigeria has been lacking, with significant gaps in the provision of mental health services and support. The bill, which was harmonized by both Houses of Assembly in 2021, is the first Mental Health Act/Law in the country after independence. The bill creates a Department of Mental Health Services in the Federal Ministry of Health and a Mental Health Fund. The newly introduced bill is a comprehensive legislation that guarantees the rights of individuals receiving mental health treatment. It allows for their active participation in the development of their medical plans and sets guidelines and time frames for the use of forced treatment, seclusion, and other forms of restraint in mental health facilities. The bill also establishes human rights protections for individuals with mental health disorders, including the prohibition of discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, medical care, and other social services. Although the bill eliminates physical restraints, it falls short of eliminating chemical restraints. Nevertheless, it is a significant step in combating the stigma and discrimination faced by individuals seeking mental health services and addressing the issue of funding for mental health care in Nigeria.
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