Buhari signs mental health bill into law

President Buhari has signed the Harmonized Mental Health Bill into law.

naijaonpoint reports that President Muhammadu Buhari finally signed into law the harmonized mental health bill by both houses of the Assembly in 2021.

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This comes decades after mental health regulatory reforms languished in the legislative chambers with failed revision attempts in 2003 and 2013.

The president of the Nigerian Psychiatric Association, APN, Prof. Taiwo Obindo, described it as a great relief. This is a victory for mental health care and practice in this nation.

“The final culmination of more than two decades of various efforts by the Nigerian Psychiatric Association now has a Mental Health Governance Act/Act and we are now part of the global space with global best practices,” he stated.

Also, speaking, APN Immediate Past President Professor Taiwo Shielk expressed his gratitude to Almighty God that the FRN President and Commander-in-Chief have enacted the Mental Health Bill. Congratulations to APN for our tenacity and advocacy for the voiceless.

“Our deep gratitude to Senator Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Senator Ahmad Abubakar, Dr. Ibrahim Gambari (COS), CBM International, Johnson & Johnson and all our partners. After several attempts, by his Grace we finally reached the milestone.

We pray that the Lord will reward all those who contributed to the success of this project.”

The signing is the first post-Independence Mental Health Act/Act and will also replace the 1958 Insanity Act.

With the new law, the 1958 Insanity Law, which practitioners condemn as obsolete and inhumane, will no longer be in force.

It should be remembered that in 2019 the mental health legislation was advanced, being approved by the Senate for second reading and holding public hearings in 2020.

On November 28, 2022, the National Assembly passed the National Mental Health Bill 2021 and sent it to President Buhari for his consideration and approval last week, according to a memo from the secretary of the National Assembly.

According to psychiatrists, the law will help replace the 1958 Insanity Act, which practitioners condemn as outdated and inhumane.

Some provisions of the National Mental Health Bill include the creation of a Department of Mental Health Services in the Federal Ministry of Health and a Mental Health Fund.

It will help establish human rights protections for people with mental health conditions, such as prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, health care, and other social services.

Improve care by ensuring that those who receive treatment have the right to participate in the formulation of their medical plans and eliminate forced treatment, confinement and other methods of restraint in facilities, in addition to expanding community coverage.

The law will also address how mentally ill populations will be cared for without stigma or discrimination and will also shape global best practices to enshrine the human right of people with mental illness, how care can be accessed and prohibit shackling or other forms of coercion.

The law, among other benefits, will help facilitate access to care for the mentally ill and ensure that the human rights of the mentally ill are enforced.

It will also help regulate the activities of mental health professionals and eliminate stigma and discrimination.

It will also help address the problem of financing mental health care in Nigeria.

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