Review Article

Nigeria mental health law: Challenges and implications for mental health services

Gerald O. Ozota, Ruth N. Sabastine, Franklin C. Uduji, Vanessa C. Okonkwo
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 30 | a2134 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v30i0.2134 | © 2024 Gerald O. Ozota, Ruth N. Sabastine, Franklin C. Uduji, Vanessa C. Okonkwo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2023 | Published: 19 April 2024

About the author(s)

Gerald O. Ozota, Department of Pharmacy, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria; and Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nsukka, Nigeria
Ruth N. Sabastine, Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria
Franklin C. Uduji, Department of Pharmacy, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria
Vanessa C. Okonkwo, Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nsukka, Nigeria

Abstract

Background: The Nigerian mental health law titled the Lunacy Act of 1958 has been under scrutiny for violating the human rights of people with mental illness. The call to reform the obsolete Lunacy Act has garnered attention from the government, as the law has been unamended for over 60 years.

Aim: This study presents the challenges and implications of the new mental health law to the mental health services of Nigeria.

Methods: ScienceDirect, PubMed, and Google Scholar were used to find pertinent material. The implications and difficulties facing the new mental health law examined from the literature were discussed. Recommendations were made following an exploratory search for literature on mental health legislation in Nigeria.

Results: The new Law in Section 5(6) saw the introduction of mental health services in primary and secondary healthcare. It also addresses critical issues such as non-discrimination, fundamental human rights, standards of treatment, access to information, confidentiality and autonomy, and the employment rights of persons with mental health and substance abuse-related disorders. The Law failed to include mental health services in the country’s health insurance system.

Conclusion: There is a need for legislation to meet people’s mental health needs and encourage them to seek treatments, such as regulations that protect against discrimination and harsh treatment of people with mental illness.

Contribution: Nigerian mental health services would benefit from the new mental health law if the key issues raised in this review are addressed.


Keywords

Nigeria; mental health law; mental health services; health policy; mental health advocacy.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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