Mental Bill: CBM Global Inclusion Lauds Buhari, Stakeholders

Paschal Emeka, Abuja

CBM Global Disability Inclusion has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the signing of the National Mental
Health Bill (2021) into Law.

Recall that President Buhari signed the Bill into Law recently at State House, Abuja after a thorough legislative process by two Chambers of the National Assembly.

But the Country Director, of CBM Global Disability Inclusion, Ms. Umoh Ekaete in a statement in Abuja, over the weekend, commended President Buhari and described the signing of the Bill into Law as historic in the decades-long struggle to ensure the protection of the rights of people with mental health issues in the country.

According to her: “This is indeed very historic in the journey of promoting the rights of persons with Mental Health conditions and psychosocial disabilities in Nigeria.

“With over 20 years of struggles for Mental Health legislative Reforms, the new mental health law replaces the colonial era Lunacy Act of 1958 that was highly discriminatory of persons with mental health conditions and
psychosocial disabilities with no respect for their human rights.

“The New Mental Health Act which becomes Nigeria’s first Mental Health Law since independence in 1960 is meant to provide equitable access to mental healthcare and other services and streamline judicial issues for people with mental illness in Nigeria.

“Specifically, it is aimed at prohibiting
discrimination in housing, employment, healthcare, and other social services, expanding community-based coverage, eliminating forced therapy, seclusion, and other types of confinement in facilities, and guaranteeing that people getting treatments have the right to decide how
their treatment will be handled, so they can enjoy their human rights and reach their full potential in life.

For her, CBM Global is proud to be part of this great feat in the history of Nigeria. She congratulated all partners who have been involved in this process.

“The University of Ibadan (WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and
Training in Mental Health, Neurosciences, and Substance Abuse,
Department of Psychiatry), Federal Ministry of Health and the Mentally Aware Nigeria (MANI), Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative, and Nigeria Mental Health Network for leading the mobilization of young people and Nigeria for awareness campaigns and wellness activities, media engagements, and convening of stakeholders to advocate passage of the Mental Health Bill, which drew the government’s attention to the Bill and
its eventual passage.

“CBM Global is proud to have supported this process alongside other critical stakeholders in the sector.

“We want to commend the National Assembly, Federal Ministry of Health, the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria for their leadership in this process, and all mental health stakeholders, members of the Civil Society our partners who implemented various interventions to raise awareness around the mental health bill and pushed for the passage of the bill.

She further noted that the passage and consequently, the signing of the bill into law is a demonstration of how much Nigerians can achieve together if we unite to pursue a cause that impacts the greatest number.

“The law comes at no better time than now when more Nigerians are
experiencing mental health issues aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising economic and security challenges, as it provides the framework for addressing mental health policy gaps and improving services.

White calling for the full implementation of the law, she said that “it is noteworthy that the signing of the Bill into law does not automatically
translate to rights for Nigerians. The law must be fully implemented so that Nigerians and persons with psychosocial disabilities can enjoy their human rights.

“So, we call on the government at national and subnational levels to
facilitate the implementation of the new mental health law in collaboration
with other critical stakeholders in mental health, especially persons with mental health and psychosocial disabilities and their representative

She restated the commitment of CBM towards alleviating the plight of those living with psychological disabilities.

“At CBM Global we remain committed to supporting our partners across movements of persons with psychosocial disabilities, including relevant stakeholders to promote the mental health and wellbeing of Nigerians through our programs targeted at strengthening local voice, empowering communities, strengthening national laws/policies, and
investing in inclusive mental health care and social services.

“Indeed, there is no health without mental health, and so, we must strive to prioritize our mental health.

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