A Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist, Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, has suggested that mental health assessment be part of the requirements for prospective students to checkmate the development of mental health conditions among teenagers.
Kadiri, also the Medical Director, Pinnacle Medical Services Ltd., made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos.
She said that obtaining the mental health status of a child before he/she entered school was necessary given the increasing rate of depression, suicide attempts, anxiety, and other mental health conditions among the youth and adults in Nigeria.
According to her, conducting mental health assessment at such an early stage will help to identify any underlying mental health condition.
Kadiri said it would also help in rendering proper intervention/management even before the individual reaches adulthood.
She noted that the preventive step if taken would go a long way to reduce the rate of mental health conditions being experienced in the country as many of the conditions would have been diagnosed earlier in one’s life and treated.
The neuropsychiatrist said that statistics revealed that half of all mental health conditions would have started before the age of 14.
“Since about 50 per cent of all mental health conditions start before the age of 14, it, therefore, becomes imperative that mental health assessment be included among the basic entrance requirements before a child enters either primary or secondary school.
”Most times, we find out that before a person secures a job or school admission, the medical report is often requested but the neuro-psychiatric aspect of medical fitness is always neglected.
”This has contributed to the rate of mental health conditions being experienced in the country because most of the conditions that should have been diagnosed and treated at an earlier age before the individual grows to adulthood are neglected.
”So, let mental health assessment be included in the school curriculum and made compulsory that every child provides a medical report of mental health fitness before entering school,” Kadiri said.
Kadiri also stressed the need for adequate training and empowerment of the teachers in that direction to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions and quickly intervene if any child showed any of the signs.
According to her, training and equipping the teachers is key for the system to be effective because children/students spend a greater part of their time within the school premises.