By Martha Agas
Jos, – The Students’ Union Government (SUG) of Nigerian Universities has called on the government at all levels to create economic opportunity and inclusion to tackle drugs and substance abuse by youths.
The SUG President of the University of Jos, Mr Danladi Adankala made the call during an event to mark the World Mental Health Day on Monday in Jos.
The event was organised by the West Action Network on Small Arms(WAANSA) in collaboration with Nigerian Association of Students.
Adankala said that the government must create more and practicable economic opportunities for the youth.
He expressed concerns over the prolonged strike in universities.
”The prolonged strike has made many students idle, which may make them indulge in drug abuse .
“Substance abuse goes hand in hand with idleness. When the youth is engaged, this would forestall drug use and abuse,” he said.
Speaking at the event, a Registered Mental Health and Psychiatric Nurse , Malam Umar Auwal-Tilde expressed concern over the near lack of psychiatric hospitals in the north.
Auwal-Tilde called on state governments to establish psychiatric hospitals.
”Out of the about 60 per cent of patients admitted in psychiatric wards or clinics, 50 per cent are drug abuse related, which requires concerted efforts to address,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Mustapha Umar, the Commander of Nigerian Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Plateau, said that public enlightenment was critical in the fight on drug abuse.
Represented by the Deputy Commander of Operations, Musa Maina , he thanked WAANSA for their efforts in the fight against drug abuse saying, “ NDLEA will provide the necessary assistance to support NGOs fighting drugs abuse”.
Earlier in his remarks, the President of WAANSA Nigeria, Mr Temitope Lamidi appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to include the NDLEA talks with the Academic Staff Union of Universities and federal government negotiations to end the prolonged strike.
Lamidi represented by the National Vice President, Alhaji Aminu Saleh described the strike as affecting the mental health of parents and children and has negative impact on the peace and security of the country.
“WAANSA Nigeria is concerned over the negative impact of drugs to mental health and well being,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World Mental day is celebrated annually on Oct 10, to raise awareness on mental health around the world, and to mobilise efforts to support those experiencing mental health issues.
The 2022 theme is “Make Mental Health and Wellbeing for All a Global Priority”.
The days was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
NAN reports that the UN said nearly one billion people out of the 7.98 billion population suffer from some form of mental disorder.
To make matters worse, the world body said, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of common conditions such as depression and anxiety, went up by more than 25 per cent. (NAN)