The authorities of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatrist Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, have advocated the need for child and adolescent health, saying psychiatric problems among the group are easier to treat, when weighed against their adult counterparts.
The Managing Director of the hospital, Dr. Rahman Lawal, stated this at the ongoing two-week certificate course in child and adolescent psychiatry.
The course is being held in collaboration with the West African College of Nursing.
Lawal said noted that child and adolescent psychiatry is the subspecialty of psychiatry that addresses the emotional and behavioural difficulties of children from birth until school leaving age or even beyond.
He called on the participants to work as part of a multidisciplinary team, with the aim of alleviating the distress of children and their families where such difficulties exist.
He said the course was designed to teach the art of diagnosis and treatment of neurologic and mental disease, using a rational approach.
A consultant psychiatrist with the hospital, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluyemi Ogun, noted that various factors could lead to, or contribute to psychiatric disorders among children and adolescents.
“They include, emotional disorders, adjustment disorders, conduct disorders, mood disorders, educational difficulties, learning disability, abusive family relationships, and depression, among others,” Ogun said.
Describing how the environment affects the mental health, Ogun said poverty and the consequent lack of economic resources do contribute to mental disorder, because it could make good parenting difficult, if not impossible outright.
“Environmental effects have been shown to influence mental health, not only in infancy, but also in middle childhood,” she said.
She warned pregnant women against drugs use, saying the overall effect on the unborn child can be dire.
“Maternal drug and alcohol use can lead to severe maternal stress, which in turn can lead to postnatal physical influences on the newborn such as brain injury; and later, adolescents’ heavy early use of banned drugs,” Ogun said.
In his goodwill to the participants, a Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, Mr. Martin Prince, said mental health is almost always neglected in resource-poor countries.
Prince, who coordinates the 10/66 Dementia Research Group, a network of over 100 researchers from around the world, working together to promote better research into dementia in the developing world, said “in middle-income countries as in high-income countries, education, literacy, verbal fluency, and motor sequencing confer substantial protection against the onset of dementia” -a state of serious emotional and mental deterioration.
The guest speaker, Mrs. Olajumoke Ladipo-Clegg, said early diagnosis was necessary for successful management and treatment of child and adolescent psychiatry; noting that much of the problem among teens is drug-induced.
Also, the Executive Secretary, West African College of Medicine, Mr. Solomon Adeleye, said the WACN placed more emphasis on the acquisition and utilisation of relevant knowledge and skills by nurses, for the overall benefit of clients and the community.
Adducing reasons for the emphasis on child and adolescent psychiatry, the Head of Department, Nursing Services, Mrs. Oluwemimo Akinremi, noted that “children are our greater tomorrow, and so must be well taken care of from the beginning of life.
“Any ailment that can affect or disturb the achievement of this must be tackled successfully.”
The programme coordination and Chief Nursing Officer, Mrs. Abosed Ladapo, said apart from training and retraining health care givers, the aim of the course was to create the necessary awareness among the public, with the overall aim of securing mental health among the targeted group.
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